The Wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum, music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E Y Young
Hampton Hill Theatre - 23 December 2019
Review by Claire Alexander
I looked forward to seeing Dramacube’s production of The Wizard of Oz with my six year old nephew. He would indeed be a critical audience having played the Tin Man in a (far, far simpler) performance as part of a holiday club earlier this year. We were not disappointed.
We all know the story. Young Dorothy, bored with life in rural Kansas, where she only has her beloved dog Toto for company and a number of very busy older siblings, is transported beyond the cyclone and the mysterious Land of Oz. There, on her quest to find the Wizard of Oz (only he has the power to get her home), she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the cowardly Lion. They are all looking for something to make their life complete. And so starts their journey through Munchkinland, to the Emerald City. Dorothy has to overcome the Wicked Witch of the West and rescue her broomstick, before the Wizard will grant their wishes. And in a final twist the balloon that will take her home blows away before she has a chance to catch it! This was presented as the traditional musical it is, complete with all of the well-known numbers – Over the Rainbow and We’re off to See the Wizard to name a couple.
This was an assured production from Dramacube, given all of their performers are under fourteen and some could be as young as seven. It was well presented and I liked the gauze curtain against which were projected images of life in Kansas, before it was raised to give us a more open stage depicting Oz. I particularly liked the animated horse, and the untethered balloon at the end. And then, once in Oz we had the eponymous yellow brick road stretching into the distance and the Emerald City, and this gave us a nice sense of perspective. The Hampton Hill Theatre can be a deep and a big stage when there is an open set and this cast of 21 young performers (all playing multiple roles) filled it impressively well. There was also a raised platform which was used to good effect by the wicked witch, and the crows, which also helped to give us a sense of power and height. I had the sense that the young cast had all been involved to some extent in the creation of the set and I certainly imagined the bright land of Oz ‘over the rainbow’.
There were some other nice touches. I liked the way Toto was played by a cuddly toy when we were in Kansas and turned into a shaggy scampering dog when we got to Oz – well maintained by Joshua Briggs. The chorus choreography (K’ja Young Thomas and Danielle Bond) was relatively simple but everyone knew what they were doing, and there were some good dancers among the Jitterbugs. for full review: http://markaspen.com/2019/12/22/wiz-oz/
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