The Wizard of Oz

Date 24th March 2015
Society Berwick-upon-Tweed Amateur Operatic Society
Venue The Maltings. Berwick-upon-Tweed
Type of Production Musical
Director Lisa Summers
Musical Director Ron Creasey
Choreographer Denise Clark


Author: Kathryn Curry

We certainly entered into a ‘Wonderful World over the Rainbow’ at Berwick Operatic Societies production of the Wizard of Oz. It was a slick and entertaining show. The set for the opening scene of the ‘Kansas Prairie Farm’ was a treat and immediately captured the nostalgia we all have for this much loved story and musical. The sets continued to enhance the production throughout the show and were imaginative, well designed and built by Jim Herbert. In particular the projections on the cloth up-stage integrated well and flowed continuously, leading from the yellow brick road and down-stage to the free standing set, showing how very effective this kind of back drop can be.

I saw both Dorothy’s perform and they were both delightful in the part. These girls respectively, Maddy Cawthorn and Georgina Faed are indeed very talented girls. They were a treat to watch and listen to, bringing their own individual styles to the character as well as being perfect dog handlers of their own ‘Totos’. The two dogs, Fig and Matilda were super and behaved so well that they soon had the audience in love with them. The girls are to be congratulated on fine, mature but natural performances throughout the show. Nicola Foggon gave a strong performance as ‘Emily Gale/Glinda’ highlighting what a talented actress she is with a superb singing voice. With ease, she went convincingly from one character to another. Fergus Rae made a great ‘Uncle Henry/guard’ with boundless energy, showing what a versatile character actor he is.  The roles of ‘Almira Gultch/ Wicked Witch of the West’ were characterised by Norma Miles who soon made the audience well aware of who the baddies were in this show.  ‘Professor Chester Marvel/Wizard of Oz’ was well portrayed by Iain Lawson who again was convincing in both roles. 

The introduction of the characters ‘Hunk/Scarecrow’, ‘Hickory/Tin  Woodsman’ and ‘Zeke/Lion’ soon had the audience transported into this magical world. Slink Jadranko, Euan Duthie and Bill Shardlow respectively were effective in their roles, each portraying the individual characters so well that I was assured of their lack of brain, heart and courage from the onset. They worked tirelessly as a team to keep the characters going and with their strong speaking voices and great singing they showed how adaptable they were.  In particular Bill Shardlow as ‘The Lion’ kept everyone thoroughly amused with his leonine antics and loveable persona. The principal line up are to be congratulated on delivering excellent performances in this production.

The adult and children’s choruses worked well together and their obvious enjoyment of performing on stage generated a feel good factor into the audience and with so many costume changes they are to be commended in their all-round ability both on stage and off.  The costumes, set, props and very effective lighting all enhanced this production to make it the hit show it was. Ian Clarke had his work cut out as stage manager but as usual his quiet efficiency made transition from one scene to another seamless. As ever make-up was well thought out and under the management of Jennifer Greenwood and Pamela Thompson was both effective and professional.

I always like to mention the ‘Musical Director’ and in this instance Ron Creasey led his excellent orchestra with competence and capability and kept everyone going at a  steady pace to keep our feet tapping, showing what super musicality he has.  The production team of Lisa, Denise and Ron must be very proud of their efforts in giving everyone an evening of magical delight on our journey along the ‘Yellow Brick Road’.  Well done to all both