Newbury Musical Theatre Society - The Wizard of Oz
5th to 9th April 2016.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
A merry old land of Oz
Praise for the whole NMTS team for an inspired show
Newbury Musical Theatre: The Wizard of Oz, at The Corn Exchange, from Tuesday, April 5 to Saturday, April 9
The choice of Frank L Baum's children's tale for Newbury Musical Theatre Society's production was inspired, if only because the performances fell within the Easter holidays. There were, therefore, lots of children to follow Dorothy and her companions' journey to Oz.
Based on the motion picture, this adaptation for the stage by John Kane sticks closely to the original story and includes some extras.
The difficulties of achieving special effects were overcome by having a large screen on which backdrops were projected throughout. With this in use and the necessity for moving large flats, there were few props, resulting in a rather cheerless stage on which the performers brought the story to life. However, this was a show in which NMTS demonstrated the considerable talent within their ranks.
Anna Neary successfully brought her own twist to the part of Dorothy, keeping her childlike, maintaining the accent, interacting and moving well with her fellow actors, while at the same time leading the well-behaved, cute little Toto. An excellent performance.
Toto (aka Rosie, a cairn terrier) was inevitably a scene-stealer, but my star of this show was Pete Warbis. Every move he made – and as the Scarecrow there were many – was just right. I look forward to seeing him in future.
Two more cracking performances came from Tom Hazeldon (Tin Man) and Matt Worth as the Cowardly Lion who may not have courage, but does have a superbly resonant voice. These four made a great team.
More good acting came from the two witches – Alice Keeping as Glinda and Nicola Rogers, the wonderfully evil Wicked Witch of the West. Praise is due to all the minor parts, including Shaun Blake, in his element leading a jolly chorus in The Merry Old Land of Oz.
The chorus sang strongly and well and their movement was good. The Jitterbug (left out of the film) was the only number which I didn't think succeeded, though obviously much work had gone into it.
Musical director Michael Evans, brought out of retirement to lead the orchestra, ensured that the score was in safe hands.
Who have I forgotten…? Why those wonderful, colourful, dancing, cavorting Munchkins, singing their hearts out and acting boots and all. How proud choreographer Lucie Dale must be. Well done to you and to director Chris Rands for producing a show all those children in the audience must have loved.