The Wonderful is this year’s Christmas production at Theatre Peckham, a Wizard of Oz meets Black Panther inspired reimagining of L. Frank Baum’s classic tale.

If you are still struggling to imagine what to expect of this unique show, be prepared to be wowed by a truly representative adaptation celebrating the vibrant community in Peckham. The music and dance in the show will not hold back in bringing a vibrant fusion of Afro beats and Hip Hop into the world of musical theatre.

Retelling this classic and well-loved story, but with a twist, The Wonderful begins in Nanna Emi’s takeaway shop in Peckham. A spectacular storm sweeps Efe (played by Ashleigh-Mae Schoburgh-Crooks) and her dog TikTok from SE15 to Ozanda, a mystical African land where tribal tradition rubs shoulders with high tech gadgetry. There Efe embarks on a fantastical quest of self-discovery to find her way home with the help of The Wonderful who is played by renowned actor Ray Emmet Brown. But not without the help of her new friends, Manne-Quin (Billy Lynch), Cyri (Amy Bianchi) and the Mane Man (Khariis Ubiaro) who show her there really is something magic in all of us.

The Wonderful
The Wonderful
Image credit: Theatre Peckham

A heart-warming aspect of the production sees the cast of professional actors joined by a host of young actors from Theatre Peckham’s Academy.

The Wonderful’s Art Director, Suzann McLean, commented: “This show is about identity, being brave, self-acceptance and embracing the value that each and every one of us bring to the world. Theatre Peckham has a praised history for placing children centre stage. The Wonderful does just that with a story that encourages young people to seize control of their own destinies.”

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“This re-imagined production connects with a younger generation who want to live in a world where they can be unapologetically their true selves. I’d describe it as The Wizard of Oz meets Black Panther: Self-discovery meets Afrofuturism. Our theatre sits on the border between Peckham and Camberwell, so it was only right that our story reflects and celebrates the rich cultural intersectionality of its community. This quote from a nine-year-old from a local school says it all, “I learnt that somehow, some day I can achieve anything because Wonderful is inside of all of us””.

The show’s playwright Geoff Aymer added: “I hope this very special adaptation makes this classic tale so much more accessible to today’s generation. We go from Peckham to a Wakanda-ish version of Oz. The message is simple: we all have hidden talents which make us a bit special. We just need to have self-belief and tap into them.”

Rounding off the talented production team are Christopher Tendai (Choreographer), Jordan Xavier and Nick Bowers-Broadbent (Composers), Ben Christopher (Musical Director), Katrina Russell Adams (Designer) and Emma Wee (Costume Design).

 

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The Wonderful show details

Dates: 1–22 Dec, times vary, see website for more details.
Venue: Theatre Peckham, 221 Havil Street, London, SE5 7SB
Box Office: Tel: 020 7708 5401 | Online: www.theatrepeckham.co.uk
Tickets: Adults £15, Concessions and Southwark residents £12, Under 16s £10.

Visit: the Theatre Peckham website.

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