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Theatre Review: The Wizard of Oz--Pitlochry ****

Joy Watters reviews a beautifully paced production.

Ah, there’s no place like Pitlochry when it comes to staging a musical. The summer season opened with an unmissable Chicago and now the festive season is here, it is time to travel the yellow brick road. It is a carefully crafted production, based on the famous movie of 1939 adapted from L.Frank Baum’s book, boasting a seasoned musical theatre cast.

The audience can sit back and revel in the familiarity of Dorothy’s dream journey interspersed with the timeless songs and a top-notch live band. Director Gemma Fairlie, clearly a fan of the classic musical, paces the piece beautifully.

Young Dorothy is unhappy with her lot, staying on her uncle and aunt’s farm in Kansas, imagining an ideal life ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’. Rachel Flynn as Dorothy sings the anthem beautifully and, as a twister sweeps her away to a new life, handles the change from malcontent youngster to courageous voyager with ease.

Her fellow travellers are of course the Scarecrow (Daniel Bailey), Tin Man (Will Knights) and the Cowardly Lion (Marc Akinfolarin). Dynamic Dorothy sweeps them all up, getting them roadworthy for the trip to see the Wizard who she believes can solve all their problems. Her new friends turn in a trio of engaging performances, acting, singing and moving with brio.

The youth cast creates some delicious little Munchkins, slotting in with the professionals to create a merry bunch of all sizes. Dance and movement with some stunning aerial work enhance the production and Dorothy’s wee dog Toto is played by a real canine and fun puppet.

Dougie Flower and his band are outstanding (particularly with their Jitterbug) throughout as the piece concludes with Dorothy’s realisation that the Wizard is a conman and there’s no place like home.

Runs at Pitlochry Festival Theatre until December 23.

Tags: theatre

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