The Wizard Of Oz – NOW Productions

The Wizard Of Oz – NOW Productions

This production had dual casts. In the interests of fairness to all performers, TASA reviewed both casts. Allison Thomas reviewed the Ruby cast and Brian Godfrey reviewed the Emerald cast.

Allison Thomas – the Ruby cast

We’re off to see the Wizard!

The classic story of Dorothy and Toto; the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch; the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion; and the Wizard of Emerald City; where goodness and love overcome evil and bad and Dorothy gets back home safely, was enthusiastically acted and sung by about 60 performers from Now Productions at the Shedley Theatre.

Daisy the Labradoodle stole the show as Toto. It was her debut performance and she was well behaved on stage through the three hour performance.

A clever minimal stage design was beautifully complemented by the lighting and sound effects designed by Joe Russell and Ken Mulder. Special mentions are Dorothy’s house before and after the twister, the yellow brick road ramp and the Munchkins’ houses. Props were also very good – especially when the Scarecrow was cut in half!

On Opening Night I saw the Ruby cast. Maisie Jo as Dorothy, was on stage for most of the time, and she confidently carried the character through the adventure in Oz with aplomb.

In song and dance and clear speech, Lily Cotton as the Cowardly Lion was an excellent performer, distinctly communicating the emotional roller coaster with very good volume.

Riley Mobbs’ Scarecrow was very expressive to especially his trembling legs.

Emily Cumming as the Wicked Witch, was often hard to understand, as her words were often squeaky and very fast. However, her dramatic presence on stage was always suitably nasty, wicked and scary!

The Apple Trees were quirky and beautifully costumed.

The Tin Man, Cameron Walker, who was of course very stiff, was a good dancer in spite of challenges with his costume.

Kylie Mobbs and Lynda Cook’s costumes, hats, wigs and makeup were all excellent. Well done! It must have taken a lot of time and effort to create the costumes, especially the Scarecrow and his stuffing, the furry Lion’s mane and hair, Glinda’s beautiful dress, Dorothy’s multiple dresses, the Trees, the Poppies, and the Winkies (especially the small one with the biggest hat!). The Jitterbugs’ glowing costumes were especially clever.

On Opening Night the music was very loud at the beginning and in several of the songs. We had trouble hearing the singers’ words, because the background music was too loud. Or perhaps the singers weren’t loud enough? I’m sure that would be more balanced in other performances.

Stunning choreography by Mandy Russell, Iita Drakard and Maisy Jo throughout the show was well planned and designed, especially for the many performers on stage at once.

Often the performers came into the audience. For example, with flashlights looking for Dorothy. Also in the poppy field we were joined by the beautiful Poppies – about 35 females of all ages, dressed in red, standing on the stairs of Shedley Theatre, singing their trance inducing song “Poppies”. The audience really enjoyed the show, sometimes joining in the classic songs “Over the Rainbow”, Ding dong, the Witch is Dead”, and “We’re off to see the Wizard”.

Well done by Jerry Russell Director, and Producer, and his team of nine crew, numerous parents and supporters of the Wizard of Oz production.

A great way to remind us “There’s no place like home”

The Emerald Cast was reviewed by Brian Godfrey.

Most of us know that everlasting children’s classic, The Wizard Of Oz and its very memorable characters. The Emerald Cast of this version by NOW Productions bring life to them joyously.

Lucy Oster as Dorothy gives a slight acknowledgement to Judy Garland in her overall portrayal, but her charming light vocals are very much her own. She is delightful and has the makings of a true triple threat. It’s never easy working with animals on stage, but Lucy handles 3 year old cutesy labradoodle Daisy as Toto with ease.

The famous three, Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion are wonderfully played by Kyle Mobbs, Bryce Young and Micah Oster respectively. It is hard to believe that Kyle is only 14 – he has the stage presence of a seasoned adult. His gymnastics are very impressive and his comic timing impeccable. As the Tinman, Bryce maintains his required stiffness well (not an easy job when you have to dance as well). Whilst Micah portrays an hilarious Cowardly Lion with pride (pun intended) and suitably confident simpering.

Lilly Marr McGuire gives Aunty Em and the good witch, Glinda, a lovely warmth and her singing voice is beautifully rich. It is a pity that Glinda doesn’t sing more. As Glinda’s diametric opposite, Kay Vincent is cackling good as the Wicked Witch with her evil laugh down pat. She just needs to watch her ‘hand acting’ as Miss Gulch. One can be nasty without too much hand movement – it’s all in the tone of voice and the way the dialogue is delivered.

Damien Wachla tends to overact as Uncle Henry (again with the ‘hand acting’) but is spot on with his portrayal of the Emerald City Guard. The man himself, The All Great and Powerful Oz, is nicely played by Alex Richardson.

The ensemble are wonderful, right from the smallest snowflake (Lucas Mentha) to the tiniest Winkie Guard with the tallest hat ever (Lucas again). This cheeky, cute little Munchkin needs to be watched out for later in life.

Another one to watch for further down the track is young Josh Roberts. This young man has a singing voice twice his size. When he opened his mouth to sing as the Munchkin Coroner – WOW!! He then shows his comic talents along side of Riley Mobbs and Cameron Walker as the funniest Crows (the bird, not the football team) you ever did see. They should have their own musical!

The entire Emerald Cast glisten with energy, enjoyment and promising talent.

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