Theatre Review: Wizard Of Oz – The Arena Spectacular

We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto: with Harvest Rain transporting audiences to a magical place with the arena spectacular The Wizard of Oz.

By
Overall
3.5

Presented by Harvest Rain

Reviewed 11 Oct 2019

We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto: with Harvest Rain transporting audiences to a magical place with the arena spectacular The Wizard of Oz. As Dorothy (Carly Bettinson) enters the Adelaide Entertainment Centre’s arena it becomes very apparent just how much space the cast has to work with and the scenes with Aunt Em (Aurelie Roque), Uncle Henry (Matty Johnston), Hickory/ Tinman (Michael Nunn) Zeke/Lion (Josh Whitten), Hunk/Scarecrow (Chris Geoghegan),  Miss Gultch (Bill Heit) and Professor Marvel (John Wood) feel far away and disconnected, with a huge emphasis placed on the back screen to draw your attention away from the dead space. Once in Oz it becomes apparent rather quickly why this is an arena spectacular with munchkins filling the stage floor as well as the aisles and balcony levels. However not even the sheer number of munchkins can distract you from Glinda (Aurelie Roque) who is a far cry from the dazzling, classy white witch of film and production pasts. Instead, a bright pink witch appears with an accent that is indescribable. The Wicked Witch (Bill Heit) has also been modernised with a sense of humour and stylish appearance.

The cast of hundreds of children bring the story to life throughout and have such a charismatic appeal that you find yourself wanting more scenes that include them.  It is a tribute to the young cast members who obviously have put a lot of effort and time in to learning the choreographed moves and holding a level of enthusiasm that fed in to the crowd for a full-length production. Outstanding effort by all and very apparent that there is a huge amount of behind the scenes crew that have been involved in this production. John Wood makes for a brilliant Mr Marvel/Wizard with a charismatic performance in which he embraces the stage with his bold personality.

Whether you are new to the story or a diehard fan of the tale, this production is a great way to end the school holidays and see a new generation of performers in a larger than life version of this theatre classic. It is a credit to all involved and fantastic to see so many children in the audience being mesmerised by the songs.

Reviewed by Tara Forbes-Godfrey

Rating out of 5: 3 ½ stars OZ in spectacular fashion

Venue: Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Season: Until 12 Oct 2019

Duration: 2 hours 20 mins including interval

Bookings: https://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=WIZARDOZ19&v=AEC


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