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The Wizard of Oz | Venue Cymru

The Wizard of Oz is a timeless classic that has captured the hearts of many. Originally a 1939 American musical fantasy film based on Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the musical stage production premiered in 2011, where it was adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jeremy Sams and Tim Rice. Fresh from its run at the London Palladium, The Wizard of Oz is following the yellow brick road to many theatres around the UK and Ireland. The Wizard of Oz finds home in Venue Cymru this week, where it resides until Sunday 10th March.


Following closely to the original story, we follow Dorothy, who after dreaming of being in a place behind the sun, just a step beyond the rain, ends up in the magical and merry old land of Oz. In a desperate attempt to return home, we join Dorothy on her journey along the Yellow Brick Road, making unexpected friends and learning new life lessons on her way.


Aviva Tulley is simply divine in the role of Dorothy, perfectly encapsulating the equilibrium of the determination and vulnerability of her character. Tulley’s performance of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ is utterly captivating and spellbinding, with an incredibly clear and powerful vocal performance. Dorothy meets her match within The Wicked Witch (The Vivienne) who has clearly defined her characterisation. The Vivienne is a powerhouse performer that steals every scene that they are in by almost giving a camp and pantoesque performance, but knowing when it is necessary to be reined in slightly to give way to the more sinister and menacing moments.


Benjamin Yates is completely loveable as The Scarecrow, giving a luminous performance by using the space of the stage incredibly well, so that it doesn't appear so vast. Another shoutout performance must be given to Abigail Matthews, who is puppeteer to one of The Wizard of Oz’s most beloved characters, Toto. Matthews fully embodies a dog like character, moving erratically around the stage causing trouble, and using physical mannerisms that make the audience forget that Toto is actually a puppet. Gary Wilmot does a lovely job as the Wizard but his character is wildly underused considering he is the titular character.

 Heavily relying on projections to aid the storytelling (Douglas O’Connell), this production takes technicolour to a new level, almost making the stage adaptation feel movie-like. The projections throughout are captivating and impressive, and provide moments of light humour. Lighting design by Ben Cracknell compliments the projections well, creating a visually pleasing spectacle of an almost dystopian Oz.

However, the set design (Colin Richmond) and use of props is completely lacklustre and lacks any heart, meaning that the stage oftentimes looks bare. With the occasional larger set piece being transported onto the stage, it sometimes felt like a wasted opportunity for the set to be expanded on to further enhance the projection work, which really steals the show. Costume design (Rachel Canning) is incredibly fun, particularly in the ensemble numbers with sequins aplenty.


The band, under the musical supervision of George Dyer, are incredibly tight, demonstrating impactful and melodic orchestrations throughout. However, the band are so over-powering during some of the more energetic numbers, that the lyrics get drowned out. Furthermore, whilst some of the classic hits like ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’ are greatly appreciated, some of the additional songs penned by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice fail to leave their mark. Two stand out numbers include ‘Bring Me The Broomstick’ which is menacingly performed by The Vivienne, and ‘Already Home’ which is beautifully performed by Emily Bull and brings the show together perfectly.


A visual spectacle of technicolour, this production of The Wizard of Oz brings all the nostalgia of the acclaimed movie to life with a high energy and modern approach that will delight both younger and older audiences. The Wizard of Oz is currently playing at Venue Cymru until Sunday 10th March - for more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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