The Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz

Presented by The Therry Dramatic Society
Reviewed Thursday 7th June 2012

Follow the yellow brick road for a fun, energetic evening of song and magic with this school-style production of L. Frank Baum's classic novel. The story follows young Dorothy, spirited away to the magical Land of Oz after her dull Kansas home is struck by a cyclone. In this wondrous new land, Dorothy finds friendship and adventure as she tries to find her way back, and discovers the secret of what really turns a place into a home.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was first published in 1900 and became the first of 14 novels set in the mythical Land of Oz. Wizard was adapted by MGM into a musical film in 1939, starring Judy Garland and, in this adaptation of the film by Frank Gabrielson, most of the magic and music remain.

Patsy Thomas's simplistic direction suits the predominantly young cast, while the film's music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and EY Harburg remain memorable under the musical direction of Joanna Patrick. There are only two big disappointments in this otherwise enjoyable production: the tedious blackouts between scenes, which can partly be credited to an unimaginative set design by Tom Bayford, and the lack of a yellow brick road, other than a static painted backdrop used for multiple scenes.

The leads are all well cast. Leah Potter is a delightfully sweet Dorothy, lacking the precociousness often found in this role. Tom Bayford, Lee Cook and Sean Flierl are highly entertaining as the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow respectively. Shona Benson gets many laughs with her tongue in cheek delivery of the Wicked Witch of the West; and Emily Schwab's Glinda The Good Witch is a fine copycat of the film characterisation. On stage however, it is always Toto that steals the show, in this instance timidly played by a dog named Chico Scharber.

Those playing secondary characters provide solid support, including Norman Caddick as The Wizard, Chris Stansfield as the Emerald City's Gatekeeper, and Karen Marks as Aunty Em.

Diction is a problem in the choral work early in the show, but is made up for by Brenton Tiver's lively choreography that never pushes the cast beyond their capabilities, despite the range of styles that he employs. The Merry Old Land of Oz is a highlight.

Despite any faults, Therry's annual musical will still leave you humming the tunes well after the curtain lowers. It's simply fun.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis, Performing Arts Critic, Glam Adelaide.

Venue: Arts Theatre 53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 9-16 June
Duration: 2 hours 45 minutes (with interval)
Tickets: $13.00 – $30.00
Bookings: 8410 5515 (10 am to 5 pm weekdays, noon to 7 pm Saturdays) or via BASS or VenueTix

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