We're off to see The Wizard!

The Wizard Of Oz

Theatre Severn

23rd March-26th March (Matinee on 26th see brochure)

One of the biggest projects that an amateur theatre company can take on must be The Wizard Of Oz; not only did the Shrewsbury Musical Theatre Company take it on, they owned it.

With a cast of 49 the stage was filled with people enjoying themselves and their performance, as was the audience that gathered tonight at the theatre ready for a voyage to anywhere. Heaven knows it’s a pretty cruel world at the moment and to escape into pure joy for a couple of hours has to be something on everyone’s list. Well, the SMTC provided that tonight.

I shall deal first with the first night gremlins. Perhaps sound engineers; a little sharper on the microphone before the speaking starts will tighten things up. It was only a little thing but a couple of lines were lost. Also there is a need to be slightly mindful of the natural volume of the orchestra and raise the volume of the singers to peak just above the full sound of the music. Occasionally this didn’t happen and the songs were lost.

Although it is fun to watch this show and fun to be in it, perhaps the man with the hearty laughter sat in the wings might keep his laughter down to a chortle. Any illusion being created on front of the stage can be shattered instantly if there is a hint of backstage activity. Mind you, you can’t blame him for laughing there are some great moments in this bag of fun.

The lighting was great and no cues were missed it’s a complicated job and it was done well. One can only imagine the size of the technical script. It was handled beautifully.

As for the show, it was great. A really good family affair. The children loved it and the little girl sat in front of this reviewer, dressed as Dorothy stole everyone’s heart. It also showed just how excited the children are about this show.

Tika the dog playing Toto was another little jewel. When he decided to accompany Dorothy in her first big number, “Over The Rainbow,” it was probably unrehearsed but utterly charming. If the dog wants to sing, you got to let it, It really added something.

This show is a shared experience, the audience want it to succeed as do the cast. The question is does it? The answer is a resounding yes. With a cast of 49 and a dog, one is hard pushed to mention the too many names but the principals were well cast and really did a proper job.

The Wicked Witch , Jayne Garner, was played frighteningly well and had the children scared in their seats relieved only by the kindness of the good witch played by a beautiful singer named Elly Clark. Professor Marvel or the Wizard of Oz Andrew Murray was great too. He found the level of comedy and mystery that the part offers and he grabbed it and did a fine job.

The accents, I don’t know quite how a Kansas accent sounds for real,  but the whole cast made a superb job of convincing one that it sounds just as it did. Playing an accented part adds yet another dimension to the actors already full palette, however all rose to that challenge and the accents were good and solid.

One believes the Director and Choreographer, Benjamin Connor is to be especially commended, one must need such a mercurial brain to constantly see the big picture when each move, each nuance is a mere pixel of the full thing. Its knowing where those pixels go to make the picture, enough of the analogy, just needless to say Benjamin did a great job. What radiated from the stage was a happy and confident cast. That is the work of a good director. Lorna Parker also did a great job as Musical Director. The live music adds so much to a show, tonight we saw children, some for the first time, seeing just how magical a theatre can be when it is worked well. Every inch of space counts, every fly, every effect, everything working together is what live theatre is all about this was caught so well by this cast.

Obviously there can’t be an Oz without Dorothy and Aimee Sellars sure owned her part. One was never aware of her not being on stage. It’s a huge ask for young shoulders especially with such big famous songs. Well done Aimee, you nailed them all. It was a great performance and there really wasn’t anytime when the plot was brought into disrepute by lack of ability. There was acres of talent in all the players, Aimee owns one or two of those acres herself.

Strawman, Tin Man and Lion were also played so well with their poor conditions, no brain, no heart and no courage respectively. Well done to David Sudlow, Dan Wrench and Scott Sutherland for creating and maintain their characters.

The Munchkins were adorable and such a clever and talented troupe at such an early age is hard to find. We have it here in spades.

There was some very professional work in this show, the days of amateur being a by-word for not brilliant, are gone! Shrewsbury is lucky to have this company in their midst turning out top notch entertainment. All in all, a cracking night out. I would have said a wizard of a night, but this reviewer isn’t a big fan of puns!

This is a Four Star Review.

Owen J.Lewis

 

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Three times Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet. See more on www.ojlwritingservices.co.uk.

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