The Wizard of Oz
Since the early 1900’s people of all ages have enjoyed the story of Dorothy and the magical land of Oz, where she learn that there’s no place like home. The story of Oz has taken many forms over the past 110 years; the most recent was Wicked, where we get to see how the witches developed into the witches we know them as in the Wizard of Oz. In 2013, we can look forward to a prequel film ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ which will be directed by Sam Rami and will star James Franco in the title role.
The Peoples Playhouse, Kidz 4 Kidz, have bought to life all the characters we’ve loved over the years. A cast of 66 took to the stage with all the vim and verve needed to thoroughly entertain the audience full of proud parents, grandparents and their sisters and their cousins and their aunts!
The entire cast was under 18 with the youngest being 5 years old. What a monumental effort it was to get all these youngsters on stage and focused. Well done to the production team for this effort alone.
Hayley Noy starred as wide eyed Dorothy Gale. Noy possesses a lovely singing voice and embodied all that was Dorothy. The three sidekicks Sam Neve as the Scarecrow, Lachlan Casey- Roleff as the Tin Man and Daragh Wills as the Lion, all did a great job with their respective roles. Georgia Smith as Glinda has a beautiful voice and carried the role well. Kendra Hall was an evil Wicked Witch and played the part well. The standout in this production was Riley Spadro, as the Gatekeeper and Uncle Henry. Every time Riely was on the stage he was all you looked at, with a strong commanding singing voice and with stage craft well beyond his years this young man certainly has a bright future ahead of him in theatre.
The masses who were the ensemble did a great job depicting, munchkins, winged moneys, evil trees, people of Oz, poppies, snow, wind, and let’s not forget the yellow brick road! Instead of having an actual yellow brick road, we had a group of dancers all dressed in black with patches of gold sequins sewn on their costumes. Whenever Dorothy and co started heading down the road again, out would pop the yellow brick road dancers to show lead the way.
Malcom Huddle led the orchestra as musical director with a tight baton. There were times I actually thought the music was a recording. Leah Osburn taught each and every one of the 66 on stage to dance and move in time with the music - well done, Leah.
The set design and construction was very basic, with each scene change a page was turned in this huge book at the back of the stage. I had to think that with a cast of 66 kids, there are a lot of fathers and brothers and uncles who could have helped make a very average looking set something a lot more special.
Lighting and audio design were by Peter Amesbury, and while the lighting was effective for the most part, the sound for this this production was extremely bad. There was a lot of feedback and at times the reverb was out of control. This company needs different people for each role in future productions. Sound is such an important part of a musical, more resources and expertise are defiantly required in this area .
This production was directed by Lucy Nicolson. Nicolson failed this production in many ways; the biggest was in her blocking, the cast members upstaging each other all the time. I also believe that there was a huge neglect on character development - I felt as if some of the cast didn’t grasp their characters. Scene changes were appalling, some taking up to three or four minutes. There really wasn’t that much scenery to move. This production did not need any blackouts as we moved from scene to scene. The worst was when we had to have three dancing girls entertain us for what seemed an eternity. Well done to the girls. Directing is more than moving people around a stage. It’s telling a story, and to effectively tell a story, every single person on that stage must know why they are there and their importance to the story.
This production entertained all who were there. On many occasions, I saw someone pointing out their children to other family members, all proud as punch. This is great family entertainment and would be a real treat for the little ones over the school holidays.
The Wizard of Oz continues Thursday 12th July – 2pm, Thursday 12th July – 7.30pm, Friday 13th July – 2pm, Friday 13th July – 7.30pm and Saturday 14th July – 2pm