Jamie Anderson directs The Two Brewers Annual Adult Panto, which will this year be The Wizard of Poz: Defying Bigotry, presented by The Cabaret Geek.
From the same creative team who brought Pilates in the Caribbean, Alice in Poundland, Hairy Poppins and Dial M for Death to The Battersea Barge, this filthy-mouthed show with a big heart will unpack the myths surrounding HIV in the 21st century with levity and love.
Jamie Anderson also stars as Grrrlinda The Good in the production, which has a festive run at the popular Clapham cabaret venue from 7-9, 14-16 and 21-22 December 2022. More information can be found here.
You’re directing and starring in The Wizard of Poz: Defying Bigotry at The Two Brewers in Clapham, what can you tell us about the show?
It’s a camp, filthy, funny, big-hearted romp!
We’ve taken the characters/plot you know and love from the Judy Garland film but remixed them a little. Imagine a sort of fusion of the Muppets and a Carry On film. In our version, Dorothy’s friend Kevin (Dorothy couldn’t come because she’s got Covid) is jettisoned from the 1980s to the present day and has to find his way back with the help of Grrrlinda, The Good Witch of North London and the others he meets on his journey. No spoilers but there’s a 3some, drug use and a massive puppet.
We’ve got all the panto traditions you love (audience participation, songs, aggressive merch sales) but with a gleeful absence of children. Nothing is taken too seriously and a good time is guaranteed.
What inspired a Christmas show that unpack the myths surrounding HIV?
Most shows that involve HIV are weepy, earnest tales of painful death and suffering and, as a person with HIV, I thought we deserved an irreverent funny show about people being positive and having a fabulous time. In the spirit of the season, I asked myself, ‘how would Jesus do it?’. And I think we can all agree that the answer to that is: whilst wearing a full face of make-up and belting out a Diana Ross classic.
Tell us about the music audiences can expect from the show?
We’ve judiciously pilfered the best songs from all Oz-related musicals – Wicked, Wizard of Oz, The Wiz, they’re all represented – plus some crowd-pleasing pop from Human League to Lizzo, often with a comic lyrical twist. It’s basically every white gay man over-40’s gym playlist.
We hear it’s a bit of a filthy-mouthed show, are you having lots of fun with that in rehearsals?
I’m Scottish, so swearing is a second language for me. In Scotland, it’s treated like poetry: the Scottish treat swearing the same way the English treat Beowulf.
You’re playing Grrrlinda The Good, what are you loving about the character?
The excessive use of sequins and not having to carry the weight of the narrative; it’s great being at an age where your character no longer bears the burden of exposition. I let the younger, hotter actors worry about how Stanislavski would have advised them to handle the ghost gag.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking The Wizard of Poz?
Firstly, bring as many people as you can, buy a ticket for that person you’ve had a crush on all year, buy a ticket for that person you’ve loathed all year, it’s a show best enjoyed in a group. And if you’ve got no friends (because you voted for Matt Hancock to win I’m A Celebrity or something) then come along anyway and you can make friends with our gorgeous audience. Oh and mine’s a bubbly wine.