The Wizard of Oz

Date 12th March 2020
Society St Chad's All Stars
Venue Kiln Green Church Hall, Diggle
Type of Production Musical
Director David Ambler
Choreographer Hilary Edgerton


Author: Claire Ashworth


It was a lovely full audience that eagerly awaited St. Chad’s All Stars production of The Wizard of Oz, the lights went down and the audience hushed. The opening scene was as everyone knows where we meet the characters which are going to take us on our journey through Oz. Tracy Buckley as Aunt Em was in fine shriek voice , it allowed her perfectly to show us the contrast with her more gentle side as The Good Witch of The North once we had travelled over the rainbow. Richard Tamworth as Joe the farm hand and then as Scarecrow gave us a good solid performance with some lovely vocals, it is a difficult part to play because the comedic timing needs to be spot on and as one of the major parts in the show a lot of the pace is within this character. I am pleased to say that this cast moved the show along nicely and at no point did it feel to be lagging.Michael Bohannon as The Tin Woodman gave us a great characterisation , I enjoyed his vocals and he used the stage space well while keeping fully in character. The Cowardly Lion is one of my personal favourite characters in the show and I loved the facial expressions which Graham Unsworth treated us to, his comedic timing was also spot on and never overplayed. Laura Derbyshire tackled the part of The Wicked Witch of the West with great gusto - I was thrilled to see her total immersion in her character even down to the way she moved about the stage and used the cloak part of her costume. Again, it is a difficult part to play because of everything you need to convey to the audience but Laura did a super job. I particularly liked the way she appeared from different height levels and used her facial expressions and armography to control the spinning bridge. Emma Sykes as Dorothy had a tough job to do as everyone always makes comparison to the Judy Garland characterisation, for me Emma did a great, solid job - she bounced out onto the stage beaming and gave us some great energy throughout the whole show. She used her face and shoulders to portray her thoughts and fears, she gave some good vocals and executed her choreography well, she made me believe and I genuinely wanted her character to get home again. A little point and only because I’m being picky would be in this instance the version used is a very wordy version and because there is so much to get out to the audience it can sometimes come across a little rushed in the dialogue, the pace of the show was good so there would have been time to just slow it down a smidge - I do however understand that adrenaline and nerves kick in too and this is only a personal point.

I had a few favourite scenes but I particularly enjoyed The Changing of The Guard, the balance between all the different Generals was great and the comedic element made me laugh out loud - Well Done , the audience loved that scene.  Another scene I really enjoyed and must mention is the visiting witches scene - I loved the chemistry between the characters and the use of the stage space, again , the use of the facial expressions were spot on for me and Laura’s comedic timing with Tibia ( Oliver Milo) was great to see. Rachael Russell played both Mayor of the Munchkins and Lady Growlie - it is always interesting for me to watch one person playing two very different characters because I like to see the differences in the characterisations and and any accents or speech pattern differences, these two were very different to each other and I enjoyed the way the Mayor was played with the right amount of pomp and occasion. Another double character was the Munchkin Coroner and The Wizard of Oz played by Connor Mitchell, he gave two great characterisations and held the audience well, I believe he may be one to watch out for in the future.

The whole ensemble worked well together, I believe the cast was a mix of ages from 6 up to 90+! Everyone on the stage was thoroughly enjoying themselves, I must commend the staging and visual choreography of “Evening Star” it was an absolute picture to watch. A standout number for me was Jitterbug, everything worked- costumes looked great, set was good, peoples placing on the stage were aesthetically pleasing - I thoroughly enjoyed it. Talking about the costumes, I believe some of them are at least twenty years old - they certainly didn’t look it, everything looked bright, fresh and current.  The backdrops were beautiful to look at and framed the dialogue well, the special effect of the Oz face was brilliantly done using a bespoke gobo. The lighting throughout the show was sympathetic, I loved the green and purple pin flashes for the witch as the timing was sharp.

Well Done Everybody, it was a very enjoyable show.