The Wizard of Oz

"A visual treat"

I found myself back at the Curve Theatre in Leicester this afternoon to see their production of The Wizard of Oz.  Having previously raved about their production of Billy Elliott I saw earlier this year, I knew that I would be in for a treat due to the genius direction of Nikolai Foster, however I was not quite prepared for the incredible visual treat that greeted me.

We all know the story of The Wizard of Oz, so no need to discuss that, as, to be honest, there is so much more to talk about with this show.  From the moment you sit in your sit and the band blast out the opening song, you can feel that this is going to be outstanding. The projections, designed by Douglas O’Connell were quite simply out of this world.  I’ve never seen anything like it before.  It almost feels as though you are flying through Kansas during the opening scene, and they only get better as the show progresses with clever nods to Judy Garland, The Wiz, Wicked and Return to Oz.

Dorothy is played by the superb Georgina Onuorah who delivers a beautiful rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.  It’s clear that she is wonderfully cast in this role and is outstanding throughout.  Equally impressive performances come courtesy of the Lion (Giovanni Spano), Tin Man (Paul French) and Scarecrow (Jonny Fines).  Fines captured the “dopey” scarecrow with aplomb and carries off some comedic moments well. Spano played the cowardly lion whose very impressive mane of hair surely must have its own dressing room!  The portrayal of this meek and mild lion was spot on and Spano provided some great vocals during ‘If I Only Had The Nerve’.  French also shone as Tin Man with impressive vocals. 

The costumes throughout this show are spectacular.  With designs by Rachael Canning, each and every member of the cast were dressed to perfection with bright green costumes during their time in Oz, something that you will be familiar with if you’ve seen Wicked.

Christina Bianco plays Glinda and arrives on stage on a bright pink scooter. I’ve seen Christina performing before and every time she delivers a confident, polished performance with pitch perfect vocals. The Wicked Witch of the West is currently being played by Ellie Mitchell as cover for indisposed Charlotte Jaconelli. Mitchell tackles the role well, with just enough evilness to portray such a hated character in the world of Oz. I always find that it’s testament to a performer when the children in the audience boo at the curtain call, so I would say job well done Ellie!

Special mention must go to Ben Thompson as the puppeteer for Toto.  Dorothy’s faithful companion looked every inch the real deal as Thompson bounded him around the stage, wagged his tail and gave us the occasional bark.

The ensemble cast shone with clean and crisp choreography by Shay Barclay using every inch of the stage and creating some stand out moments, especially during their time at Witch HQ and the appearance of the flying monkeys, which I have to admit gave me nightmares as a child……….the costumes once again were incredible.

I am quickly becoming a massive fan of work produced by the Curve Theatre and hope to return for many more shows.  The Wizard of Oz is colourful, captivating and a visual treat!  I would wholeheartedly recommend this show as one that you must see before the tornado whisks it away on the 8th January 2023. You can get your tickets here: https://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/the-wizard-of-oz/

Photo credit: Marc Brenner

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