This show is the guilty pleasure of so many, including me. There is little not to like and if performed well it can bring a tear to the eye and laughter to the lips. Burton Musical Theatre Company did do a great job and the capacity audience obviously enjoyed their night being transported to the wonderful Land of Oz
There were some lovely original touches to the setting and characterisation and director, Lee Smith, had worked hard to get the very best out of all involved. There was great comic timing throughout and the show was obviously well-rehearsed. This may seem a strange thing to say as you would assume all shows are rehearsed well but from the smallest child to the oldest adult, from the orchestra to the scene shifters everyone knew their role and performed it with confidence and life.
The set was effective and the thought that had gone into the design enabled the show to flow and atmosphere to be created. Scene changes were slick and the space was used to its maximum potential. The costumes worked well but a bug bear of mine is shoes! Always make sure the shoes don’t look out of place with the costume, Jazz shoes, particularly, do not always create the right ‘look’. I was a little shocked when members of the ensemble appeared in the silver cat suits for the tornado. I loved the idea of the ensemble moving the objects but the silver suits definitely won the prize for the most unusual, not to mention comical, costume of the night. The lighting used created atmosphere and colour adding to the show and not distracting.
The orchestra, under the direction of David Blackwell, really helped to create a quality overall performance. They were very professional and even managed a sneaky costume change! It is always a pleasure to see and hear live music in the theatre.
There was an array of wonderful characters in this production all executed well. I particularly liked the original approach to Glinda’s character and Karen Hambleton pulled it off brilliantly. Holly Twells, as Dorothy, was slightly understated and not the usual brash young girl that she can sometimes be portrayed as. Her first rendition of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ was a joy to listen to. I did miss Toto when the action moved to Oz, I understand the difficulties in using a real dog and a toy dog doesn’t always cut the mustard, but it would have been nice to see him appear or made reference to, if only for the line “I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog too”. Lion, Tin Man and scarecrow were just as you would want them to be, lovable and funny. Catherine Moore certainly came into her own when she turned into the wicked witch, fabulous contrast to the other characters and I loved the boots! Andrew Last’s performance as the guard brought a smile to my face with each entrance and Iain Wishlade as Oz and Prof. Marvel delivered his comic lines with assurance and great timing. The Winkies were genius, well done to the male company members; I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at the Winkies before. The general ensemble entered into the spirit of the piece brilliantly even in silver cat suits and green tights! Finally I come to the Munchkin ensemble. The children were confident, strong, enthusiastic and a joy to watch. Again they were well drilled and created a strong sound.
To finish off the performance the company rendition of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ was breath taking. The sound was fantastic and finished off a lovely night perfectly.
Well done to all involved in this production.