By Graham Hiley,
So, you think you’ve seen the Wizard of Oz? Not like this you haven’t!
I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t too sure about going to see a musical I have watched plenty of times, usually through beer goggles at Christmas.
You know the drill… you go off to see the Wizard, you follow the yellow brick road and find there’s no place like home. Job done. Pass the chocolates.
But this stunning production at the Mayflower is spectacularly different. Fresh from a spell at the London Palladium (see what I did there?) this Wizard is truly magical.
Traditionalists need not worry… all the old favourite songs from the Oscar-winning movie are there along with some wonderful new ones from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice including the spell-binding Bring Me The Broomstick.
That number was superbly delivered by The Vivienne who stole the show as the Wicked Witch of the West. The original winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race is now a major star and dominated the stage with her towering presence and pantomime villain persona.
Utterly convincing in the role, she even eclipsed the delightful Dorothy (Aviva Tulley) who did full justice to all the big numbers with her sublime singing, even if some of the dialogue was a little quiet.
Alongside her, Benjamin Yates gave an intelligent portrayal of the Scarecrow with no brain, Marley Fenton tugged on the emotions as the Tinman with no heart and the excellent Nic Greensheilds as the Cowardly Lion, bravely admitted to being a Friend of Dorothy!
But the real highlight was the staging which was worth the admission on its own. The clever use of special effects and a vibrant video backdrop made this a genuine spectacular worthy of the West End.
The lighting and colourful costumes helped create a sinister dystopian regime in Oz with The Vivienne glowering with menace while Alex Bourne pitched it just right as the Wizard.
Small wonder there was hardly a spare seat in the theatre with tickets now harder to find than the Wizard himself.
And judging by the roars of approval, Dorothy wasn’t the only one blown away.
Christmas will never seem the same again!
Tickets for The Wizard of Oz (Tuesday 16– Sunday 21 January 2024) are on sale at mayflower.org.uk or 02380 711811.
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