The Wiz

Date 24th October 2013
Society Stevenage Lytton Players
Venue The Sishes
Type of Production Musical
Director Elizabeth Bergman
Musical Director Julie Davies
Choreographer Louise Airey

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Author: Vicki Avery

 The Wiz was Elizabeth Bergman’s directorial debut into the world of amateur theatre and what an impact she has made. Although there were a few issues around up staging characters and vocal modulation, never the less this was a fun production which I for one, thoroughly enjoyed. Well done to you!

The Wiz is a fresh, contemporary take on The Wizard of Oz. Beginning on a humble farmstead in rural Kansas, Dorothy (Alice Rush) is swept up in a tornado and deposited  down in Oz without a friend in the world, not even her dog! At the advice of Addaperle (Amy Vince), the Good Witch of the North, Dorothy decides to seek out the man who can supposedly send her home: The Wiz (Ross Edwards). Along the way she joins up with a Scarecrow (Carl Ames), a Tin Man (Tom Beirne), and a Lion (Richard Absalom). All three actors showed just how it is possible to modernize and develop a new slant on an established character type. The tornado, which sweeps Dorothy off to OZ was cleverly depicted by dancers costumed in swathes of fabric twirling and leaping around the stage. Those seated in the first few rows could actually feel the gusts of wind that the dancers generated, helping to simulate a storm. Throughout the show, the dancers ably portrayed not only the tornado, but also the chattering munchkins, crows, winged monkeys and sleep-inducing poppies. Louise  Airey’s choreography was inventive yet adequate for the small Sishes stage.

The cast were costumed appropriately and I particularly admire the cleverly designed Poppy Hats. Very Elegant. . Alice Rush projected a child-like innocence to the part of Dorothy, and her voice was well modulated yet showed strength when needed. Carl Ames’s loose-limbed Scarecrow and Richard Absalom’s Lion alternately projected sass and vulnerability, while Tom Beirn brought a naivety to his Tin Man that everyone could empathize with.  I was delighted to witness how this young man has blossomed in confidence and I look forward to seeing more in the future. The performers were backed by a small band and choir placed to the left of the stage.

The show’s run time is perfectly suited to the whirlwind experience. But perhaps the most encouraging realization comes when some of the more tender songs were being performed “What Would I Do If I Could Feel” by the Tin Man, for example. Just in front of me was a young boy who was absolutely captivated throughout the performance. If the magic worked for him then congratulations Elizabeth, Julie and Louise, it worked for me also.

Thank you for your generous hospitality

Vicki Avery