After a short absence this group is back where it belongs, at the Crewe Lyceum Theatre. To celebrate its homecoming the society presented the fabulous 1987 Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptation of the 1939 film of “The Wizard of Oz”.
To transform the stage from drab Kansas to Dorothy’s ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ was Prosceneium’s scenery, and a set of in-house costumes. Coupled with fabulous lighting and sound the atmosphere created was terrific keeping the audience absolutely absorbed by the fantasy within the show.
Everybody probably knows all the characters and the songs that were in the film version. However, this presentation did not just pay homage to the film, the creative team brought out the heart of the show, with a stellar cast. The musical interpretation, with all the added background music, the dance and the vocal arrangements were tip-top. The choreography became an important element in the picture-book settings. I think that a special mention must go to the “Snow Flakes”; they introduced a nice comic touch.
The director clearly marshalled the production throughout and one which received gleeful response. It was obvious how much attention had been given to the story’s dramatic content. The production came across as a company show. The experience of the members of the cast worked so hard and created the innocence, and wonder of the piece.
This is Dorothy’s story. In her story, all the people she has known throughout her life have become the characters in the Land of Oz. There were memorable moments from the junior members of the cast as the Munchkins. They were all looked after by Glinda, who was most credibly portrayed by Shannon Webb. All the supporting cast members, and the ensemble players, by turns, charmed, thrilled and spooked us.
Giving quite an emotional punch with her cackling voice was the Wicked Witch. She it was who desperately wanted the ruby slippers. Deborah Cornock, as Miss Gulch, and the Witch of the West, not only had the voice, she had great facial expressions, too. The cheer on her demise was testament to the success of her characterisation.
On her journey along the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy befriends Scarecrow/Hunk (Sean Johnson-Hargreaves) Tin Man/Hickory (Benjamin Stubbs), and Cowardly Lion/Zeke (Adam Goode). This trio commanded the stage. They were totally focused, and in supporting each other each knew just when to take the lead. The iconic characters were created with a satisfying degree of their own interpretation, adding to the pleasure of Dorothy’s new found friends.
Gemma O’Donnell. as Dorothy Gale. along with the remarkable Toto (Nancy) told Baum’s picture-book story with clarity. All the adventures of enchanted poppy fields, the witch’s lair, the magical trees and the meeting the Great Oz, were entertainingly, and sincerely acted out.
“There’s no place like home” and this group is back home doing what it does best, Musical Theatre.