‘Irresistible’ journey to the land of Oz

From left, Jack Morton (Scarecrow), Kellee- Rose Hand (Dorothy), Sam Dietz (Tin Man) and Meaghan Stewart (Lion) in “The Wizard of Oz”. Photograph: Cathy Breen.

Musical theatre / “The Wizard of Oz”, directed by Justin Watson. At Belconnen Neighborhood Theatre, till January 21. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.

SELDOM has the journey up the well-travelled yellow brick street to the land of Ouncesbeen extra fulfilling than as portrayed on this pleasant manufacturing from Ickle Pickle Productions.

Crafted on a minimalist price range however realised with a surfeit of creativeness by Justin Watson and his artistic group, the journey takes place on Ian Croker’s deceptively simple setting.

As the journey progresses, Watson and his choreographer, Jodi Hammond, along with their massive, enthusiastic solid, handle to rework the stage with a succession of imaginative manufacturing numbers. Some of which, significantly the primary act finale, recall the kind of spectacle paying homage to the Ziegfeld Follies.

Working with an adaption of the traditional movie, devised by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Firm in 1987, this manufacturing options all of the acquainted songs from the film, but in addition gives extra alternatives for the refrain and small vocal ensembles. Musical director Jenna Hinton has taken full benefit of those alternatives to realize some fairly stunning singing from the ensemble which, teamed with a lush recorded soundtrack, usually resembles the choral sound related to traditional MGM musicals.

Anchored by a captivating efficiency from Kellee-Rose Hand as Dorothy, the viewers is rapidly drawn into the story of her journey to the land of Oz.

Excellent in a superb solid, Jack Morton is especially memorable because the jelly-legged scarecrow in the hunt for a mind. His rendition of “If I Solely Had a Coronary heart” is pure pleasure.

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Equally, Meaghan Stewart because the very humorous Cowardly Lion provides lustre to her already spectacular repertoire with a show-stopping efficiency of “If I Have been King of the Forrest”, which might do credit score to any Broadway diva. Finishing the trio of Dorothy’s travelling companions, Sam Dietz charms because the Tin Man in the hunt for a coronary heart.

Additionally excellent is Debra Byrne in considered one of her finest performances so far because the Depraved Witch of the West who lastly meets her match from Glinda the Good Witch performed by Aleesha Boye. Elliot Cleaves impresses along with his assured portrayal of the Emerald Metropolis Guard, whereas Kristopher Patston-Gil brings a powerful stage presence to the twin roles of Professor Marvel and The Wizard.

Vibrant costuming by Janette Humphries, imaginative lighting design by Justin Watson, and particularly joyful, disciplined performances from the big ensemble as munchkins, winkies, crows, monkeys, even a gossipy apple orchard, all contribute to an irresistibly fulfilling manufacturing assured to enchant younger and previous alike.

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Thanks,

Ian Meikle, editor