Wizard with a classic touch

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Theatre
“The Wizard of Oz”
Phoenix Players, ANU Arts Centre until October 22
Reviewed by Bill Stephens

DIRECTORS Jon Garland and Kelda McManus have closely followed the classic MGM musical version of this timeless classic for this ambitious production.

All the familiar songs are included and even an additional song cut from the film.

Musical director Nicole Nunan has assembled an impressively large orchestra which does justice to the lush musical accompaniments, and a series of effective dance numbers, devised by Annette Sharpe, for the hordes of colourfully costumed munchkins, jitterbugs, flying monkeys, flowers and winkies, provide plenty of spectacle.

Sixteen-year-old Nicola Hall is quite simply enchanting as Dorothy. Nailing “Over the Rainbow” early in the show with her endearingly naïve interpretation, she charmingly captures Dorothy’s wide-eyed wonderment without being cloying, and is assertive without being arch.

Her three cohorts, Scarecrow (Cameron Boxal), Tinman (Lachlan Ruffy) and Cowardly Lion (Cameron Elvin) each provide entertaining high-points. As the wickedest possible Witch of the West, BJ Anyos has great fun chewing up the scenery. Watch out for the adorable Lullaby League and the Lollipop Guild and of course the scene-stealing pooch, Toto.

This a delightful show for children of all ages (you included) and no doubt, by the time you read this, the pacing will have picked up, and the opening night stage-management problems resulting in slow scene changes, missed sound and lighting cues, and too many stage-hands being caught by the spotlight, will have been ironed out.

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