Theatre Peckham has announced the full cast and creative team for its Christmas show, The Wonderful.
The Wonderful is described as a Wizard of Oz meets Black Panther-inspired reimagining of L. Frank Baum’s classic tale and runs from 1–22 December.
Writer Geoff Aymer and artistic director Suzann McLean have collaborated to stage this adaptation, celebrating Peckham’s vibrant community and bringing Christmas spirit to South London.
McLean, whose directing credits include Catcher at York Theatre Royal, Pilot Theatre’s This Child and Hackney Empire’s Rebellion, said: “This show is about identity, being brave, self-acceptance and embracing the value that each and every one of us bring to the world.
“This re-imagined production connects with a younger generation who want to live in a world where they can be unapologetically their true selves.”
The story sees Efe and her dog TikTok swept away from Nanna Emi’s Peckham takeaway shop by a storm.
They are taken from SE15 to Ozanda, a mystical African land where tribal tradition rubs shoulders with advanced technology.
Efe is assisted by new friends Manny, Cyri and the Mane Man on a fantastical quest of self-discovery to find her way home.
Throughout her journey she learns that there is something magic in all of us.
Aymer’s playwriting credits include Talawa Theatre’s Anansi and the Magic Mirror, The Oddest Couple at Theatre Royal, Stratford East and What a Wonderful World at Blue Elephant Theatre.
He said: “I hope this very special adaptation makes this classic tale so much more accessible to today’s generation.
“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.”
Ray Emmet Brown leads the cast by taking on the title role of The Wonderful.
The award-winning actor has credits across theatre, TV and film.
The show’s young protagonist Efe is played by Ashleigh-Mae Schoburgh-Crooks.
She is joined by Tarisha Rommick who portrays the evil queen Aygum.
Manny the mannequin, Mane Man and cyborg Cyri are played by Billy Lynch, Khariis Ubiaro and Amy Bianchi respectively.
Puppeteer Sebastian Chambers operates TikTok the dog.
Music is composed by Jordan Xavier and Nick Bowers-Broadbent and choreography organised by CTC Dance Company founder, Christopher Tendai.
The show brings a fusion of Afrobeats and Hip Hop to the world of musical theatre.
Young actors from Theatre Peckham’s Academy will join professionals onstage.
This is part of the theatre’s continuing drive to champion and develop young people within its community, which was recognised at the Southwark Business Awards last year.
The venue has also provided five front and backstage roles for youths on the DWP’s Kickstart Scheme.
Theatre Peckham is located at 221 Havil St, London SE5 7SB.
It was founded over 30 years ago and has a rich history of engaging young people with the arts, placing diversity and inclusion at the heart of its work.
Tickets to see The Wonderful cost £15 for adults and £10 for under 16s, with the show being suitable for all ages.
For more information, visit Theatre Peckham’s website.
Featured image credit: Ben Lewis