Latoya Newman

THE annual adult pantomime crew kick off the festive season lunacy tonight with the opening of this year’s offering – The Wizard of Oz.

For the past 16 years the Durban end-of-year event has been putting a naughty twist on fairy-tale classics. This year the team is inviting the audience to follow the yellow brick road to the land of Oz.

Tonight caught up with Anthony Stonier, who’s always so good at being bad. This year he plays the Wicked Witch of the West.

“I’m always the baddie,” he says proudly. “She (the wicked witch) is horrible, she’s awful… I shout a lot and then I die,” he laughs.

Donnagh Roberts plays Dorothy.

The Cowardly Lion, The Tin Man and The Scarecrow are played by Jacobus van Heerden, Marc Kay and Thomie Holtzhausen, respectively.

Daisy Spencer is the Good Witch and doubles as the narrator.

“Daisy and I have a lot of fun on stage as the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch. We b**ch and moan about each other and we do a funny witches’ duet together,” said Stonier.

Describing this year’s panto as “bigger, brighter and broader” than ever, Stonier said the costumes were fabulous: “Kevin Ellis and Gareth Greaves have created the costumes. Expect to see the Wicked Witch in lots of leopard and cheetah print.”

Also, the musical director, Stonier, said the audience can expect a host of fun songs.

“It’s got to be a nice mix of musical comedy songs and pop songs. The songs have to move the action forward. We don’t throw a song in just for the sake of having a song,” he explained.

Created and directed by Darren King, this year’s panto also features Spencer as choreographer, with set design by Darren King, Greg King and Bryan Hiles and lighting design by Tina le Roux, with Megan Levy on sound.

Reflecting on his first pantomime back in 1996 when they did Cinderella at the old Playhouse Cellar supper theatre, Stonier said: “We were initially booked to run for six weeks, but then it went amazingly well and we ended up running for about seven months. The pantomime’s popularity just continued over the years,” he said.

Stonier said for the first time two vivacious dancers had been added to the cast of the panto. So adding to the naughty and nice this year are Chelsea Blair and Chrystal Floweday.

Catch The Wizard of Oz (PG16) Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Doors open 90 minutes before the show for diners. Drinks available at the bar. Tickets R110 to R130 and seating is at tables of eight. The show runs until January 13.