By Kelly Wickham
The Wizard of Oz
Until December 29
Chichester Festival Theatre, Oaklands Park, Chichester PO19 6AP
It’s a classic Christmas tale and celebrating 80 years since the film was released, it was no surprise to see The Wizard of Oz cropping up at theatres across the regions.
There may be the familiar storyline, the black and white beginning, the famous songs which the audience can’t help but sing along to but the whole piece combines together in a fresh and energised way with a spectacular cast and visually a feast for the eyes.
Ella O’Keeffe, as Dorothy, stole the show, holding notes in the famous Over The Rainbow and mimicking Judy Garland’s expressions to a tee.
Another popular character was Richard Chapman, playing the Cowardly Lion and Zeke. His humour brought something different to the stage, along with Alife Scott’s clever slapstick movements as Hunk and the Scarecrow.
Toto was an incredible addition with “handler” Ellie Dickens cleverly using the puppet dog on stage, bringing him to life in every scene, in milling about sniffing at objects and people in the background.
It’s hard to move away from the popular film with older women playing the parts of Aunt Em and Miss Gultch and the Wicked Witch of the West. Florence Clarke ,playing the latter character, just lacked an added pinch of wickedness while Evie Carter was exceptional as Glinda (the Good Witch of the North) in comparison to her role as Aunt Em.
Luc Oratis is a complete natural on stage, playing both Professor Marvel and the Wizard of Oz with complete.
A huge cast with the munchkins, crows, trees, poppies, snowmen, Ozians, Jitterbugs, Monkeys and Winkies – every member of the cast giving 100 per cent at all time.
If ever there was a Christmas performance to be proud of directing, Lucy Betts should be overly satisfied with this production.