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Culture, Theatre

Review: The Wizard of Oz

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The opening night of The Wizard of Oz at New Theatre Oxford was nothing short of a theatrical tempest, sparking the audience into rapt attention from the very first note.

Douglas O’Connell's masterful projection design seamlessly blended with the set, not only providing a stunning, magical backdrop to the story but also heightening the feeling of being in a dreamlike state. The modern touch of a glitch effect which appeared towards the end of the production both on the screens as well as part of the spells, also brought the production into the contemporary era whilst flawlessly complementing the theme of glitches in reality. This really added a unique layer to the visual narrative, creating an otherworldly atmosphere that felt both timeless and refreshingly current.

Based on the iconic story by L. Frank Baum, this beloved tale was brought to life with a stellar cast, captivating visuals, and a score that echoed the charm of the original film. This musical holds special significance for me, given that it was one of my grandmother's favourites, and Somewhere Over the Rainbow was even played at her funeral. Watching Aviva Tulley deliver such a beautiful rendition of this track stirred a poignant and emotional connection, bringing a flood of cherished memories. With grace and authenticity, Tulley brought the beloved character to life, capturing Dorothy's innocence and unwavering determination and a goosebump-worthy voice.

Alongside her, Benjamin Yates charmed as the lovable Scarecrow, and Martin McCarthy won us over as the heart-warming tin man, but a clear audience favourite was RuPaul’s Drag Race UK winner and Dancing on Ice finalist, The Vivienne, who dazzled as The Wicked Witch of the West showcasing her dramatic flair and a touch of truly wicked humour. The production effortlessly embraced and amplified the camp energy that is quintessentially embedded in The Wizard of Oz, both in the Vivienne’s performance, and in the nature of the original 'friend of Dorothy,' the Cowardly Lion, wonderfully portrayed by Nic Greenshields. Both contributed to the show's joyous embrace of theatrical flamboyance.

Whether you've been a long-time fan since Judy first clicked together those sparkly reds, or you’re visiting Oz for the first time, this is a celebration of the boundless power of imagination and the enchantment of theatre, and I just know you’ll love it.

Image credit: Marc Brenner

www.atgtickets.com

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