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December 2003
The Wizard of Oz reviewed
Written by Clive Fuller, website user
Dorothy and the Scarecrow
Dorothy and the Scarecrow
The Wizard of Oz is showing at the Rep Theatre with all the favourites - Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the lion and who could forget Toto.
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Birmingham Rep
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The Wizard of Oz is showing at the Rep Theatre until 24th January 2004.

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The 'Wizard of Oz' has to be one of the most loved and everlasting stories that has delighted both children and adults for over 100 years.

Most famously, the MGM film musical starring Judy Garland is still one of the most popular films of all time.

The Tin Man
The Tin Man

Who can ever forget Dorothy, The Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion not to mention the Wicked Witch of the West?

The musical score by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg were an instant hit and numbers like 'Jitterbug' identify its origins, the late 1930s.

The story by L. Frank Baum is still as sharp as the day it was written and many of its gentle digs at the establishment are still as valid.

The stage show

Under the expert direction of Rachel Kavanaugh, the inventive and most stylistic design of Peter McKintosh the capacity audience were treated to an evening of pure magic at the Rep.

Dorothy and Toto
Dorothy and Toto

The principals, Suzanne Toase who as Dorothy is quite enchanting and gives a heartfelt performance of 'Over the Rainbow' was outstanding.

Michael Cahill as Scarecrow, Robert Hands as Tin Man, Jamie Beamish as Lion all in fantastic costumes each make the most of their character parts and play the audience expertly.

Catherine Breeze as Wicked Witch of the West is genuinely frightening and the clever use of colour adds to the atmosphere.

Fiona Dunn as The Good Witch of the North is very much the Fairy Godmother of the production.

John Conroy as The Wizard is a kindly old man really and Gerard Carey as Nikko the Monkey - again a superb costume. They all deserve great praise for their characterisation.

The Good Witch
The Good Witch of the North

The whole production worked so well, the dancers, the Munchkins and Snowflakes who were played by the Ruby Team at this performance and of course Toto played by 3-year-old Border terrier Leo got just the right reaction from the audience.

The orchestra under the direction of Stephen Ridley created a whole range of wonderful sounds and the musical numbers had the benefit of fresh arrangements by Steven Edis that brought the classic Arlen and Harburg score to life once more.

A great family show

And finally, this is a show for all the family with a great story, spectacular sets, high wire flying, wonderful music, fantasy, good and wicked characters and lots of fun.

The production continues at the Rep until Saturday 24th January 2004.

Clive Fuller

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