After a tornado whisks away a young Kansas farm girl, Dorothy, to the magical land of OZ, she starts her quest to find the mighty Wizard of Oz who has the power to send her home. Along the way she meets a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodsman and a Cowardly Lion who help her on her journey.
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Wizard of Oz Cast List:
Dorothy: Lorna Heppell
Scarecrow: Nathan Johnston
Tin Man: Matthew Muddell
Lion: Robert Carpenter
Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch: Nita Louise Graham
Aunt Em/Glinda: Jo Williams
Wizard Of Oz: Ryan Hicks
Uncle Henry/Guard: Adrian Locke
by Mandi Dunford
I was especially looking forward to seeing the production after hearing it feature as part of the Break a legs on Elaine Paige on Sunday on BBC Radio 2.
A well known and much-loved story the Wizard of the Oz is the tale of Dorothy's adventures in the colourful land of Oz.
Lorna Heppell was superb as the Kansas girl trying to get back to Aunt Em. Lorna was enchanting as Dorothy, especially in singing the most famous song Over the Rainbow which I really enjoyed.
She also coped brilliantly as her own dog Spencer on his stage debut as Toto tried to upstage her for a treat during the song, but watching her sing part of the refrain the four legged friend was really adorable.
They say never work with children or animals but the team at COS showed that this is not something they were worried about!
As with previous productions like last years hairspray the cast was large and every single member was totally committed, smiling their way through and singing and dancing with such confidence.
There were opportunities for many of the cast to have a moment, whether as munchkins, poppies, snowflakes or even jitterbugs. I have seen several productions of the Wizard of Oz and really liked the addition of the crows to taunt the scarecrow and the apple throwing trees!
The principal characters who enter Dorothy's adventures included Matthew Muddell and Robert Carpenter as the Tin man and Lion respectively, who were each charming. Nathan Johnston as the scarecrow particularly impressed us with the way he tumbled and fell about seeming to bounce!
The two witches each had challenges of special effects to overcome in order for the audience to be transported to a magical world. Nita Graham cackled and menaced poor Dorothy with an imposing performance and I loved the flame throwing moment. Whilst Jo Williams was ethereal as the good witch Glinda, I don't want to spoil the surprise of how she comes and goes in Oz but what a fantastic idea.
Author: Jose Harrison
This was a well presented show under the very capable production team with some good ideas on this popular musical that encouraged good attention span from a young audience. The Director must have spent many hours with over twenty in the Ensemble and a further fifteen dancers who were well drilled, looked happy and really performed as a company. I was very impressed but did find the stage a little overcrowded at times.
The costumes were very colourful with all the Munchkins dressed very differently, with brightly coloured head gear, and the main characters of Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow also had great outfits. Congratulations to the Wardrobe team for some of the most imaginative costumes I have seen recently in a show.
Lorna Heppell, playing the principal lead of Dorothy, had a real feel for the character and sang beautifully, especially ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, but I felt she was a little old for the part. The casting of the other diverse set of characters was good throughout with some interesting interpretations from all. Both Nita Graham as a really scary Wicked Witch of the West/Miss Gulch and Ryan Hicks as Professor Marvel/The Wizard of Oz were super. Very clear diction and lovely costumes added so much. The same must be said for Adrian Locke whose transformation from elderly Uncle Henry to the City Guard was remarkable. This also applied to Jo Williams as Glinda/Aunt Em. Her entrance as Glinda, the Good Witch was a delightful feature as she ‘glided’ across the stage. I was fascinated to know how she managed it, but however it was achieved, it was one of the highlights of this production.
As everyone knows Dorothy sets off up the Yellow Brick Road and meets the Scarecrow, cleverly played by Nathan Johnston. He certainly appeared to be made of straw, collapsing frequently and restuffing himself as he went. They next meet the Tin Man, Matthew Muddle, who keeps rusting up and has to be oiled regularly to keep moving, and they all then join up with Lion played by Robert Carpenter. He was every inch the frightened coward with no belief in himself. I loved his song ‘If I were King of the Forest’, which was an absolute show stopper. All the minor characters and chorus added so much to the overall enjoyment, the orchestration was excellent, the lighting worked well and the visual and sound effects, especially in the “twister storm sequence”, all helped to make this a thoroughly memorable evening’s entertainment.