• Lance August

Morals, majesty and music in The Wizard of Oz

Paying homage to its 1939 musical movie equivalent, the Gilbert and Sullivan Society brings The Wizard of Oz to the Artscape Opera House. Oz is the society’s 102nd production, and is a community theatre adaptation of the world renowned musical. It is directed by Roché Haupt-Buckle, with musical direction by Alastair Cockburn. The principle and ensemble cast move across the stage with graceful fashion thanks to choreographers Roxy Levy and Annie Goedhals.

With the biggest cast and crew that I have ever seen, the production will be staged with two separate sets of principle casts, dubbed the Emerald and Ruby casts respectively. Some of the names who feature in this magical production are Jennifer Human and Martine Kawalsky as Dorothy, Melissa Sanderson as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, Waldo Buckle and Ken Leverton as the Guardian of the Gates, Darryl J Spijkers and Peter O'Donoghue as Scarecrow, Nick Plummer and Stefan Le Roux as the Tinman, and David Bolton and Jeremy Quickfall as the Cowardly Lion.

The Wizard of Oz focuses on a young Dorothy Gale, a girl who dreams of a perfect life over the rainbow. One day, a twister engulfs her farm and carries her away to a world in a parallel universe. There, she encounters the Wicked Witch of the West, and the Good Witch of the North, and the adorable Munchkins. Dorothy, alongside her dog, Toto, are joined by the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion, as they travel the universe of Dorothy’s imagination in search of the Great Wizard of Oz, and a way back home.

This stage adaptation includes all the well-known songs of the legendary movie, including Munchkin Land (with Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead), We’re off to see the Wizard (with Follow the Yellow Brick Road), and of course, Over the Rainbow, and many more.

Supplementing the well-known songs, the production uses a full symphony orchestra. The orchestration is filmatic, and the sound that is created is funky and stylish with quirky rhythms. The orchestrations add amazing onomatopoeic and spooky effects, and makes the audiences’ imaginations go wild. The musical is virtually almost a film on stage.

The show promises to be a spectacle, and a multimedia delight which has never been on stage before. It’s definitely going to be a feast for the senses. The set displays the sepia tones of the dry and dusty Kansas fields, and then lands with a bang in Munchkin land, a land with a rainbow of colours. The set and scenery reflects the tone of the dialogue.

Just like the modern updated set, the costumes promise to wow the audience too. Costume designer, David Pamplin-Grove was sure to use sequins aplenty, and the audience may need sunglasses for the glare. The costumes are fabulous, sassy and slinky. A unique and colourful lighting design, crafted by Artscape's resident lighting guru, Faheem Bardien, further adorned the magical set. The production also did it's part to enrich the lives of young theatre professionals, by providing a platform for this year's cohort of technical training interns at the Artscape to execute and strengthen their skills in set, lighting and sound design.

The Wizard of Oz displays a message of optimism in bleak times, and makes for the ideal visit to the theatre, as summer breaks. Watch Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion dance down the yellow brick road at the Artscape Opera House until 8 October 2017. Tickets are available from Artscape Dial-a-seat, Box Office and Computicket outlets.

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