Panto telling Wizard of Oz story

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Much of the Panto cast for The Wizard of Oz participated in the Dec. 4 Hudson Santa Claus Parade. (Photo by: Kristina Edson)

Holiday tradition on stage now

An annual Hudson holiday tradition continued this week when the curtain rose on the 2016 Panto, which has put its quirky, creative spin on the children’s classic, The Wizard of Oz. Those who’ve never been to a Hudson Panto are in for a treat. The popular family entertainment tradition that was first introduced in England, and which is normally staged during the holidays, is almost always based on a well-known children’s story. But according to director Glen Robinson, while they stay true to some aspects of the original tale, giving it the Panto spin means audiences should expect the unexpected. “It’s always comically funny and we always have at least one female character played by man who we call the dame,” Robinson said. And this year there will be two dames, one of which will be Dorothy’s Aunt Em. The show, a musical, is also interactive meaning audiences are encouraged to publicly react and to engage when prompted. Robinson says that can mean loudly cheering for the good guy, or soundingly booing bad guys. Another annual tradition is the chance for family members to work together. Elizabeth Harwood of Saint Lazare has been cast as Glinda the Good Witch, while her daughter, Olivia, has been cast as one of two Dorothy’s. Harwood says there are many mother-daughter grouping in the cast, as well as a grandmother, mother and granddaughter. “For me it’s the most wonderful experience to act with my daughter. She was over the moon to be cast and is working so hard because she doesn’t want to let anyone down,” Harwood said, adding both casts are very encouraging and supportive of each other. There are a total 104 actors in this year’s Panto, broken up into two casts. Auditions were held in early September. The 2016 Hudson Panto: The Wizard of Oz, will run from Dec. 15 – Jan. 8, at the Hudson Village Theatre, 28 Wharf Rd. For showtimes or tickets, call the box office at 450 458-5361.

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