REVIEW: Merry old land of Oz comes alive

The main characters in The Wizard of Oz
The main characters in The Wizard of Oz
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The Wizard Of Oz

Spalding Amateur Dramatic Operatic Society

South Holland Centre, Spalding

On the way to this show, armed with the knowledge it was to be based as close to the 1939 film as possible, I wondered how SADOS would pull it off.

What about the flying house, the witch in the sky on her broomstick, the terrifying castle?

I needn’t have worried. With a superb mixture of projections and visuals, all the magic of the old blockbuster came alive on the stage.

It was really cleverly done and even featured opening and closing credits.

And, of course, in these old films the music is virtually ever-present. But a superb orchestra, directed by Lynne Loose, kept the music going throughout, bringing alive again not just the famous old songs but the underscore tunes too.

It was Abbie Shweikhardt donning the ruby slippers and her performance was flawless

And what songs... probably some of the most memorable from any film and they all sounded great.

‘Over the Rainbow’, ‘Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead’, ‘If I Only Had...’, ‘We’re off to see the Wizard’, ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’... they were all here.

It was all put together by joint-directors Paul Coleman and Charles Long and producer Jodie Schweikhardt. They did a superb job with so many set changes.

Keeping to the 1939 theme, the main characters also based their acts on those original acting performances.

The role of Dorothy was shared, but it was Abbie Schweikhardt donning the ruby slippers when I went on Thursday. And her performance was flawless.

I don’t know how many times she’d watched the film in preparation but she did an amazing Judy Garland impression, kept the Kansas accent going throughout and sang quite beautifully.

Her three friends – Scarecrow (Brett Moore), Tinman (Andrew Rudd) and Cowardly Lion (Charlie Russell) were great in their iconic roles.

The audience really enjoyed Charlie’s pathetic lion as he mimicked Bert Lahr’s performance of over 70 years ago.

Brett was impressive too as the scarecrow. The way he moved, danced and fell really did make it look like he was made of straw!

And what a performance from Andrew, singing and dancing on stage for the first time. They all nailed it.

What about Trish Burgess’ Wicked Witch of the West? She was terrifying and, although the scene in which she was killed was a bit subdued, the way she melted away was so impressive.

Lauren Earth and Donna Carter put in good performances as Glinda the Good Witch and Aunt Em respectively, and Jonathan Tibbs was covincing as Uncle Henry, reprising the American accent that served him so well last year in ‘The Game’s Afoot’.

An often overlooked role in the film is that of the Emerald City guard, played here by Colette Buchanan-Gray. The guard is involved in some really funny scenes and she played it really well.

And Paul Scott didn’t just double up as Professor Marvel and the Wizard – he was also the technical manager behind all the brilliant visuals.

There was clear singing and good acting from the youngsters playing Munchkins, Monkeys, Winkies and Ozians too.

Good acting, good singing and good playing all came together for a great night. Well done.

• You can still get tickets for the two performances tomorrow (Saturday) – at 2pm and 7.30pm.

JeremyRansome