The Wizard of Oz: NODA review

By 4th July 2019News & Reviews

What’s not to love about this stage version of what is probably one of the best known
films of all time? Familiar, eminently hummable tunes, colourful characters, a great
story of good triumphing over evil and people finding their true selves. This feel-good
show really has it all and, under Sam Gaffney’s talented direction, PTG’s production was
an absolute delight.
Right from the opening image of the iconic ruby slippers under red spotlights, we knew
we were in for a treat. Sophisticated lighting and a deceptively simple set helped to
weave the magic into every scene, without the need for time-consuming changes.
Costumes were colourful and the seven-piece band, under Lizzie Hales’ confident baton,
created just the right sound – and not too much of it, rarely drowning out the singers,
thanks also to a well-balanced sound system.
What a fine cast Director Sam Gaffney has assembled for this show. Every member was
strong, with well thought out characterisations. You could not wish for a better Dorothy
than Grace Moritz – she had just the right mix of innocence and determination, with
great stage presence and a great singing voice too! Steve Cliff as the Scarecrow was
wonderfully loose limbed and dopey as he tumbled around the stage; you could almost
feel the rust in Tin Man Chris Hackett’s joints as he creaked into life; and Geoff Wootton
gave a great portrayal of the Cowardly Lion – just a big pussy cat really. All three
interacted well together and were strong singers.
Joanne Stephenson was a wonderfully evil, cackling Wicked Witch of the West (with
fabulous flaming broom), while Emma Lumb made Glinda the exact opposite – sweet,
happy and charming. John Kent was spot on as Professor Marvel and the Wizard, while
Conrad Stephenson was impressive as the idiosyncratic Guard at the Emerald Palace,
doubling as Uncle Henry with Michelle Magorian as a stern but loving Aunt Em.
The principals received excellent support from the adult and children’s ensembles with
good choral singing, and they executed Lily Vincent-Franklin’s effective choreography
well.
Of course, the real star of the show was Toto (sadly not credited in the programme, as
far as I could see). The little Westie behaved impeccably throughout and didn’t seem to
mind what happened to him or how much noise was going on around him.

You could not fail to be delighted and uplifted by this wonderful production and I’m
sure every one of the last night’s most appreciative audience went home humming one
of the familiar tunes, feeling that all was right with the world.

Mark Donalds
NODA SE District 10 Representative