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Review - The Wizard of Oz: a quality production of universal appeal

By David Wilson

The Wizard of Oz:

Based on L Frank Baum’s novel and the 1939 MGM film

Music and Lyrics by Harold Arlen & E Y Harburg

Direction by Dirk Hoult

Musical direction by Lucas D Lynch

Choreography by Maryanne Nucifora

The Twelfth Night Theatre

Cintra Road, Brisbane

Season runs until 11June Bookings

This tale, based on L Frank Baum’s classic novel and the 1939 MGM film, tells the story of young Dorothy Gale who is swept away by a tornado from her Kansas farm to the magical land of Oz. There, she encounters a host of whimsical characters: good witches, bad witches, animals that talk, scarecrows that walk, and of course Munchkins and Winkies.

To find her way home she must journey along the Yellow Brick Road to see the mysterious and all-powerful Wizard in the Emerald City. Along the way she makes new friends, but must also brave many dangers including the Wicked Witch of the West who will stop at nothing to get her hands on Dorothy’s magical ruby slippers. To make it home safely, Dorothy must learn an important lesson: there is no place like home.

Once again the dynamic team of Lynch & Paterson have delivered an absolutely first rate production that is nothing short of magical for all ages.

The acting and vocal performances of a very strong cast were matched by the wonderful orchestra, mesmerising staging and effects, and sophisticated choreography. Add to this an extremely talented junior cast and the most adorable Yorkshire terrier and you have a quality production of universal appeal.

The star of the show was undeniably Kirra Lang as Dorothy. Lang beautifully captured Dorothy’s compassion and courage, as well as her vulnerability and determination. Her classical training was obvious as her vocals throughout were flawless, particularly in Over the Rainbow - which is no mean feat when performing one of the most iconic songs of all time.

Amongst a very strong cast, Hudson Glynn was a standout. His physicality and comedic timing as Scarecrow were exceptional, as was his acting in the more tender moments as Hunk.

The role of Tinman was a fabulous vehicle for the strong vocals and acting abilities of Connor Hawkins. In the hands of a lesser performer, the physically stiff and immobile Tinman could have been lost on stage next to the physically dynamic characters of Lion and Scarecrow.

Fiona Buchanan as Lion was a crowd favourite, with the role showcasing her strong characterisation and gift for comedy.

If audience reaction is anything to go by, Ebony Hamacek’s portrayal of the Witch of the West was Wicked! She truly inhabited the stage and captured all the best qualities of pantomime in a powerhouse performance.

Eleanor Grieve as Glinda provided the perfect balance of good to Ebony Hamacek’s wickedness. Grieve’s vocals as Glinda were excellent, and the emotional moments between Grieve’s Em and Lang’s Dorothy allowed her acting ability to shine.

David McLaughlin was able to showcase his acting range, between the ever stoic Uncle Henry and the almost cartoonish Guard, while Grant Couchman brought just the right amount of charlatan to his portrayal of both Professor Marvel and The Wizard.

The direction of Hoult and the choreography of Nucifora were excellent, particularly evident in Jitterbug and also the scenes featuring the junior cast. If the quality, talent and confidence of the junior cast is anything to go by, the future of musical theatre in Brisbane is assured - there was not a weak performer amongst them.

A particular mention should go to the orchestra, led by Musical Director Lucas D Lynch - it is hard to think of any better in Brisbane. The musical performance was note-perfect and was the centrepiece of the show. This was complimented by some fabulous staging and the use of some excellent lighting and immersive effects which the audience loved.

This is a top quality production of an iconic musical and I encourage you to see it.

Tickets can be purchased now and start from $59.90. Season runs until 11June 2023.


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