Review: Wizard of Oz, Playhouse

13
August
2019

Posted by News Editor

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Review: The Wizard of Oz

Helena Gomm follows the yellow brick road to Salisbury Playhouse.

Images: Ash Mills

Enthusiasm and energy were limitless in Wiltshire Creative’s production of The Wizard of Oz, which drew on the talents of Stage 65 Theatre Group and Jigsaw Youth Dance Company to assemble a cast of nearly 60 young performers.

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With live music, a well-designed set and colourful costumes, they brought to life the story of Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto, who are whirled by a tornado from rural Kansas into the Land of Oz.

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There, they team up with Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion and set off to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, intending to petition the Wizard to grant their requests.

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Along the way, Dorothy and her new friends meet a host of different characters, and it was lovely to see the potential of those actors who, here, took fairly minor roles. I was particularly enchanted by the grove of grumpily defensive apple trees, who weren’t going to give up any of their produce without a fight.

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Stage 65 has a commitment to inclusivity and it was exciting to see performers of varying abilities working so well together.

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The cast even included a real dog (at least for the Kansas scenes), who shared the enthusiasm of the cast by barking joyfully at every opportunity. In the Land of Oz, Toto turned into a life-like puppet, skilfully manipulated by his young handler, Ethan Speed.

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Directing young people is a special skill, and it was clear that this was a well-disciplined cast who knew exactly where they had to be and when. The choreographed dance numbers were very well executed.

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I did have a bit of a problem with the sound, though. Young people often don’t realise that projection doesn’t mean shouting, particularly not when microphones are being used. More guidance and direction in this area would have been welcomed by the audience, and would have brought greater subtlety and a better sense of light and shade to the production.

All in all, though, this production of The Wizard of Oz was a triumph for the talented and enthusiastic youngsters who took part.

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What a great opportunity it was for them to put on a show in a professional theatre. And what an opportunity for their proud parents to see how hard their children had worked and to what great effect.