Reviewed: The Wizard of Oz

The beauty of the theatre is sometimes it allows you to travel to a land that you heard of, once in a lullaby. Where you get to see an age old classic that you remember watching countless times as a child come to life on the stage before your eyes, it transports you back and releases a rush of emotions.

The bold and brilliant production of The Wizard of Oz currently playing at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton does just that, it gives you everything you want from a night at the theatre. It captures the essence of a well loved story whilst throwing in some modern twists, elaborate dance numbers and stunning costume design.

I am sure you are all aware of the tale; Dorothy, Toto, and friends go on an unforgettable adventure down the yellow brick road to the merry old land of Oz, each on their own quest to capture something that is lost.

The casting for this show is spot on, every cast members immerses themselves into their multiple roles. The collective voice chorus out powerful songs to help tell the tale, with care taken to highlight not only the main characters but those of the ensemble, showcasing extraordinary talent throughout.

Aviva Tulley takes to the stage as Dorothy and captures the innocence of a character that feels misunderstood and out of place. The purity of her voice washes over the audience and I sat with goosebumps as she captivated us with her rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. She gives an outstanding performance throughout the show as we follow her on her journey through Oz, and continues to amaze us as she slips seamlessly between song and dance numbers. Fully invested in the character I find myself silently chanting along with her, “there’s no place like home”, willing her dream to come true.

As we are introduced to her travel companions The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion, you find character traits in each to admire. One by one they tell their story, and you feel the energy level on stage increase with every word sung, building up the intensity of the blossoming friendships. The trio support Dorothy on her journey offering the friendship and support that Dorothy needs, something that we all strive for, making it a very relatable moment.

Benjamin Yates brings to life The Scarecrow, never breaking from character I found myself transfixed by the way he moved around the stage, almost fluid, giving the impression he really had no bones! Delivering us seamless dance routines and many laugh out loud moments you can’t help but love this character, with his high energy performance he captures our hearts as The Scarecrow.

Marley Fenton brings a new dynamic to the story as The Tin Man with his modern style of dance, which is perfectly suited to this character, then throw in some skilful rap verses you witness a contemporary flair added to the production, without detracting from the classic feel.

Nic Greensheilds gives a larger than life performance as The Cowardly Lion keeping the audience entertained with his amusing lines and light-footed movements, whilst creating an endearing character that completes the trio perfectly.

The Vivenne plays a striking Wicked Witch of the West, she wows the audience with her powerful vocals and confidently masters the choreography, her presence commanding attention whenever she took to the stage. She creates the dark and ominous atmosphere needed for this character then surprises you with some perfectly timed comedy moments.

A touch of sparkle and optimism was brought to the stage with Glinda, played by Emily Bull, in complete contrast to the Wicked Witch. Her voice sings out beautiful as she inspires Dorothy to take on the quest, she brings a touch of lightness to the stage offering hope and support to people of Oz, making us all wish we had a Glinda watching over us.

Every part of this show deserves praise. The set design was a marvel, with constantly changing pieces, they skilfully worked moving parts into dance sequencing creating a dynamic scene. The costumes were works of art, adding bursts of colour to the stage perfectly complementing the scene that was being set. And the orchestra supported the production with beautiful melodies setting the scene and building the atmosphere.

You still have time to follow me over the rainbow and immerse yourself in the majestical land of Oz, it is playing at Mayflower Theatre until the 21st January with tickets still available.

Words by Vicky Anscombe

Photography courtesy of Wizard of Oz UK Tour 

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