A new Oz rises with this exciting production of The Wizard of Oz – review

Johan Persson

Dark realities invade the MGM spectacle in this year’s Sheffield Crucible musical.

It’s hard to imagine the enchantment and wonder a 1939 audience felt as they gazed upon the Technicolor world of Oz in the famous MGM movie musical The Wizard of Oz. And now, thanks to this 2017/18 festive offering, we’ve a wonderful new vision of Oz to discover once again.

Truthful and heartfelt performances mixed with dark strains ensures this show doesn’t fall into being overly styled with substance. Gabrielle Brooks exceeds in creating a deeply layered and moving performance as Dorothy – truly a leading star – although the reactions from the audience would no doubt have you believe the limelight is stolen by her co-star Toto.

Without giving too many spoilers away… this is an innovative interpretation as we pass from the real world to the realms of cartoon and fantasy.

Strong performances, fresh interpretations, stunning orchestra led by Toby Higgins, are all sadly let down by questionable quality and design in costumes which forms a confusing juxtaposition to the highly impressive and crafted set. Ewan Jones’ choreography keeps the stage flowing and truly comes into it’s own with the toe tapping Jitterbug number, skilfully performed by the hardworking company. Richard Howell’s colourful and well crafted lighting design.

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Gabrielle’s take on Dorothy is supported with outstanding performances from the entire company. Special mentions to Max Parker whose physicality and isolated movements make it hard to believe he isn’t truly made of Tin, further physicality and clowning from Andrew Langtree as the loveable Scarecrow. Completing the trio is Jonathan Broadbent exuding comedy with his Cowardly Lion.

Robert Hastie’s interpretation of the classic musical introduces theatrical concepts that keep the piece fresh and exciting, the use of a Greek Chorus not only creates clever staging but further gives new life to the score by introducing elements of a-cappella singing and unique arrangements.

This darker and modern production of The Wizard of Oz will certainly please those looking for something a little less fantastical and more inventive this Christmas season.

Gay Times gives The Wizard of Oz ★★★★☆

More information can be found here.

Words Ben Millerman

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