The Wizard of Oz – Review – Sheffield Crucible
The Wizard of Oz – Review
Sheffield Crucible, December 2017
by Jess Peace
It’s over one hundred years since The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was first published by L. Frank Baum and over eighty years since the classic film version starring Judy Garland graced the silver screen. Over the years, The Wizard of Oz has been imagined and re-imagined for both stage and screen, yet for many the 1939 film version is the ultimate classic. For me personally, The Wizard of Oz is a family favourite that marks the arrival of Christmas.
Bursting with energy and colour, The Wizard of Oz brings a vibrant and dazzling performance to the Crucible Theatre this December. For the few who may have never seen the film, the story follows a young girl named Dorothy, who lives on a farm with her Aunt Em, Uncle Henry and beloved dog Toto. When a tornado tears through Kansas, Dorothy and Toto are whisked away to the magical land of Oz.
In a whirlwind of events the pair must follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard of Oz, the only one with the power to get them safely back home. Along the way, they befriend a Scarecrow who needs a brain, a Tin Man who longs for a heart and a cowardly Lion, in search of courage. When they finally reach the Emerald City, the wonderful Wizard only agrees to help if they can bring him the broom belonging to Wicked Witch of the West. To do that, they will have to kill her.
“Sass and attitude”
This stage adaptation stays faithful to the novel and the motion picture whilst also giving it a new lease of life. I won’t spoil it for you, but there are a few differences and some added extras too!
Set Designer Janet Bird has to be acknowledged for creating a wacky yet wonderful home for our much-loved characters. Compromising of a large circular platform that lights up from underneath, paving the way of the yellow brick road! There is second disc which is raised during the performance to create the backdrop of the Emerald City. The whole design is very cleverly executed and is like no other set design I’ve ever seen.
Now, for the performance itself… The Wicked Witch (Catrin Aaron) is every bit as cunning and evil as you would imagine, with a high-pitched laugh that echoes around the room. The Good Witch (Sophia Nomvete) is wise, wonderful and delivers her performance with heaps of sass and attitude. She is the guardian angel we all wish we had.
Gabrielle Brooks is a wonderful Dorothy and her rendition of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ is truly heart-warming. She captures the innocence and warm of Dorothy’s character brilliantly.
One of my favourite characters has to be Toto, who was brought to life in the Oz scenes by Rhiannon Wallace. From a simple tail-wag to the interaction with other characters, puppeteer Rhiannon gives a great performance. You almost forget that she is there – in a good way!
The Scarecrow (Andrew Langtree), Tin-Man (Max Parker) and Cowardly Lion (Johnathan Broadbent) were fabulous and all complimented Dorothy’s character so well. These are the characters who add life into the production, from Scarecrow’s comedy timing to the Cowardly Lion’s sass and Tin Man’s warmth and affection. I was almost weeping when he says: “Now I know I gotta heart, because it’s breaking.”
The whole cast gives a magical performance that will make you laugh, cry and sing your heart out. If you get the chance to see the show then you will not be disappointed. I for one was singing and dancing all the way home.
images: Johan Persson