Show: The Wizard of Oz
Venue: Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Date: 19th December 2018
Director: Gemma Fairlie
Writer: L. Frank Baum, adapted by John Kane
Music & lyrics: Harold Arlen & E. Y. Harburg
Musical director: Dougie Flower
Principal cast: Rachel Flynn (Dorothy), Daniel Bailey (Scarecrow), Will Knights (Tin Man), Marc Akinfolarin (Cowardly Lion), & Camille Marmié (Wicked Witch of the West)
Based on the classic film adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s iconic tale, and originally adapted for the RSC, this stage version of The Wizard of Oz was every bit as magical as I could have hoped. Despite not being specifically Christmassy, the inherent magic and charm of the show was more than appropriate for the festive season. You only had to look around the theatre, and take in the vast age range present, to see how universal and timeless the story’s appeal really is.
Enigmatic performances from all the main cast, and slick backing from the ensemble meant there wasn’t a note missed or a toe out of line. The presence of a 10-piece live band was also very welcome. The soundtrack itself seamlessly weaved together original background material and all the big, familiar, crowd-pleasing numbers from the MGM film that you would expect.
The attention to detail in the costumes and set design was excellent, really enhancing the immersive and enchanting nature of the show. The use of colour contrast between the real world (drab and neutral) and Oz (rich and vibrant) was particularly effective. Similarly, the superb choreography, clever puppetry, and dazzling aerial displays really elevated the visual impact of the production.
Indeed, I know a couple of people who have also seen it at some point during its month-long run, and I’ve read a few professional reviews: all share the sentiment that the production would not feel out of place on Broadway or the West End, such is the quality across all departments. Having now seen it myself, I quite agree. To pull such a feat off at local theatre level is testament to the hard work of all involved.