19th April 2018
The Westovian Theatre South Shields
Type of Production
Natalie Elleithy (asst. Rosie Ramsey)
Author: Foster Johnson
Due to financial considerations it has been some while since the Society staged a full blown show. Thanks to the work of a young and vibrant Committee and Directorial Team and with the support of an equally keen Society they returned to the genre with their interpretation of The Wiz a retelling of the classic Wizard of Oz. Has it been worth the wait? Oh It has. A brilliant production was placed before an enraptured full house. It had everything. Singing and acting of the highest quality from Principals and Ensemble alike, wonderful harmonies, excellent ballet and movement, superb costumes, lighting and sound effects and a Band of immense talent. The music, being a mix of rock, gospel and soul may not have been known by older patrons but that was soon forgotten as they were swept into this fantasy world.
Where to start handing out the plaudits? Well first of all to the Directorial Team of Natalie, Steph and Rosie whose conceptual ideas were transferred into reality for a fine end product. To the Society and the Committee for taking the big leap of faith to return to doing a musical and the inherent problems that go with doing so, and to the cast itself for their fine efforts.
It is an issue with many productions that they are let down by the quality of their costumes and sound and lighting. Not in this case as they were excellent and made a major contribution to its success.
With a large cast all of whom deserve a mention it is never easy to single out particular performances particularly with the quality of voices the society possess. However, there were some stand out offerings and cameos. Of these the four main protagonists Sarah Ketchin (Dorothy) Rebecca Fenwick (Scarecrow) Michael Brabbs (The Tin Man) and Kenya Roberts (Lion) worked brilliantly, not only as a team, but their individual characterisations and vocal interpretations were superb and fitted their parts to a T. For his first leading role in a Musical Tony Chapman (The Wiz) played the part with the strength and sensitivity required for the role in equal measure and Dianne Jackson (Aunt Em) brought all the experience and quality to the role that we have come to expect from her performances. Other young talented performers were also on show and in the roles of Addaperle, Evillene and Glinda (the three witches) Charlotte Reay, Grace Davison and Mhairi Jane were super. Finally Suzanne Storey marked her Principal debut with a fine characterisation of the Royal Gatekeeper and Rosie Ramsey was at her comedic acting best as The Lord High Underling.