It was spectacular!
The Wizard of Oz, one of the best-known musicals of all time and continues to enthral generations. In a bold and faithful reimagining, this musical spectacular delighted audiences.
Audiences joined Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion as they followed the yellow brick road on their quest to reach the Emerald City. Wince as the Wicked Witch of the West puts fiendish obstacles in our heroes’ way.
The Wizard of Oz had all your favourite characters and songs from the classic film, including Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Follow the Yellow Brick Road, with an added sprinkle of award-winning SMTC magic.
Almost two years have passed since originally scheduled, thanks to the Covid pandemic, but the show has finally opened, and SMTC have pulled out all the stops with this gem of a production. Their version of the Frank L Baum novel and iconic movie is a colourful, enchanting adventure and audiences of all ages will love it!
Aimee Sellars offers the sweetest portrayal of Dorothy Gale, and her beautiful rendition of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ displays sensitivity and innocence as she dreams of far-away places.
Dorothy’s new-found ‘Yellow Brick Road’ pals muster up the most loyal and solid friendship group. The talented Dave Sudlow as Scarecrow is splendidly scatter-brained, yet his line “Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking!” is as appropriate today as it was in the 1939 movie. Fans of Star Wars might agree with my analysis that Dan Wrench is channelling his inner ‘C-3PO’ in his brilliant portrayal of Tin Man, and Scott Sutherland gives a superbly roaring performance as the cowardly Lion. All four companions treat the audience to wonderful renditions of old familiar songs and I defy anyone not to want to sing along.
The characters of Aunt Em and the Good Witch are delightfully performed by Elly Clark. Her ethereal arrival in Munchkinland brings gasps of audience awe which could raise a fortune if it could only be bottled! At the other extreme, Jayne Garner, playing Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch, is possibly one of the most terrifying stage-baddies I’ve ever seen, in her mission to relieve Dorothy of the ruby slippers. Seeing is believing, and flying broomsticks might be expected, but a flying bicycle? I’m still not sure if I dreamt that bit!
Matt Spencer doubles up as Uncle Henry and the Emerald City Guard with flair, and the ever wise Professor Marvel/Wizard of Oz is played magnificently by Drew Murray.
An energetic, multi-role ensemble appear alongside the 4 main heroes; such things as dancing poppies, sassy singing trees, green-clad ‘Ozians’ and a diverse group of ‘Winkie’ guards add extra entertainment. A trio of cawing crows make an attempt at stealing the show. However, Tika, the dog (Toto), ultimately claims the title of show-stealer. Such a brave little pooch who appears to take all the loud music and scary effects in her stride.
Alongside the talented adult ensemble is a delightful collection of local youngsters who appear as all-singing, all- dancing Munchkins. There are two teams of children but, if Team A’s standard is anything to go by, I’m sure the alternative Munchkins will do an equally splendid job when it’s their turn.
Several cast members performed in the recent Curtain Call production of Hairspray; Aimee Sellars (Dorothy) and Matt Spencer (Uncle Henry) with prominent roles in both, so theirs is a remarkable performance, considering they were rehearsing for two very different productions over the same period.
The live orchestra, led by Musical Director, Lorna Parkhouse, is outstanding, and Lorna’s expertise with vocals and harmonies from the cast is evident throughout.
Despite a few technical hiccups synonymous with opening night, this is a thoroughly entertaining production with vibrant costumes, colourful sets, brilliant score, witty script and lively dance routines. With a cast of more than 70 it’s clear that Benjamin Connor has had an enormous task on his hands as Director and Choreographer. He should be exceedingly proud of his hard work and that of the cast and crew. They have all proved that ‘dreams really do come true’ with this kaleidoscopic extravaganza, and the two year delay was well worth the wait!