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The stage play adaption by Tim Bray is Taieri Dramatic Society’s end-of-year production at Fire Station Theatre in Mosgiel.
Together with last Friday’s full house opening night audience, I thoroughly enjoyed the magic tale, as Tim (Zac Henry) and Rose (Tylah Harris) searched for Lucy their cow by following hoofprints until becoming lost in the great black forest. They met magical characters along the way, were captured by Badjelly (Gloria Harris), an extremely nasty witch — ‘‘the wickedest witch in all the world’’, but eventually escaped aided by a giant eagle named Jim (Rob Monzari) and Dinglemouse (Caitlin Amende) who had been turned from a banana into a mouse.
As a Goon Show devotee, I identified with glimpses of familiar Milligan silliness, and happily joined in audience singing of The Ying Tong Song.
Outstanding were a four-member frizzy-black-haired stage crew (Sam Ruthven, Jared Preston, Mitchell Hay and Logan Hay), who continually changed costumes or accessories to move props and backing sets as part of on-stage action.
They became paramedics, firemen, harp-playing angels, rainbows, trees, clouds, snow-makers and much more. Director Brian McCormack and stage manager Christine Wilson are to be congratulated on staging, choreography and set-lighting, adding plenty of humour to match the brilliant colours and imaginative picture-book costuming (Arma Veltman and Isabelle King). Badjelly’s scary facemask, nails and elaborate costume, and Binklebonk the tree goblin’s outfit were superb.
Other roles were played by Barbara Reid, Jasmine Rixon, and subtle background music from appropriate classical repertoire was never too loud.
The Taieri Dramatic Society aims to foster amateur theatre at this 80-seat venue and the cast and production team were mainly young people, full of enthusiasm for their craft, resulting in a slick polished production. Badjelly the Witch runs until December 16 and is such fun — an ideal pre-Christmas treat for children.
Badjelly the Witch
• Fire Station Theatre, Mosgiel, Friday, December 8