Having seen the dazzling Mulan Rouge, I had an idea of what to expect from the format of The Witches of Oz. This is dinner, drinks, and a show – the Feast of Oz! Upon entering the venue we’re met with Emerald City-themed decorations, fed an appetiser and handed an Oz-themed curated cocktail menu. The production had even specified “emerald glam” as a dress code, and despite donning a sparkly green dress myself, I found myself profoundly upstaged by other more enthusiastic audience members. There was great energy from the crowd, which worked well for panto-style call and response cues during the show.
The show kicks off with our two witches – one good, and one wicked. Both Feyi Wey and Grace Kelly Miller made for excellent hosts, with vibrant costumes and cheesy puns aplenty. The characters are re-imagined versions of the original inhabitants of Oz, dragged up and with a large emphasis on queer and diverse identities. The story of Oz is a great foundation on which to tell queer stories, as the original tells of finding one’s self and chosen family; The Witches of Oz certainly puts a refreshing spin on a beloved story.
The show’s humour pulls from all directions – passion, identity, and politics. Even Oz isn’t exempt from an energy crisis! At times the narrative feels a little disjointed and jokes forced in, but there is a case to be made that this randomness adds to the bizarre humour of the show. The entire cast have unrelentingly high energy, with great singing and dancing talents, and as a result every moment of the performance is jam-packed with fun. The plot culminates in a blizzard of Oz taking over the city, and Doro-they finding their way back to Kansas. There is commentary on how even after the growth that takes place in the original story, our characters have room to further grow up and find themselves.
The Vaults is a brilliant space, with two end stages as well as a traverse platform doubling as a banquet table. The production makes good use of its many openings and layers, creating excitement and immersion. A real highlight of the show is its use of costume, particularly the witches’ gowns and the drag “Tin”, who in this version is not a man. Alex Clow has done a great job with set and costume, and I also commend dressmaker Mahatma Khandi and the performers who doubled as makeup artists for elevating the show’s visuals.
I was fortunate enough to have dining tickets, which meant during the show’s three intervals various dishes were brought to my seat while the Good Witch sang cabaret-style. The food itself was good, and I was pleased with the vegan and vegetarian selection. I did find that the starter and main course intervals were rather long, and those without dining tickets spend a lot of time sitting and waiting. Talk of “The Feast of Oz” was also incorporated into the script; the show is clearly designed to have dinner as a part of it, and I would imagine the general admission experience could feel somewhat lacking.
The Witches of Oz is simultaneously ridiculously silly and touchingly insightful, with a highly talented group of performers at its core. Oz-tentatious in the best way, I would certainly recommend the full dining experience as a fun and campy night out.
The Witches of Oz plays at The Vaults until 14 January 2023. Further information and bookings can be found here.