You can read 9 more articles this month
THE WIZARD of Oz is a mainstay of festive viewing and, as such, it's a reliably safe production for the recently renamed and redeveloped Leeds Playhouse.
In a production that entertains rather than truly excites, the venue's artistic director James Brining hits the right balance between providing nostalgia for parents and fresh energy for children, with the story sympathetically updated character-wise. The Lion (Marcus Ayton) is a bluffing boxer in a champ T-shirt and there’s a passing reference to Tinman (Sam Harrison) being gay.
The central cast is ably completed by Eleanor Sutton as Scarecrow, Lucy Sherman as a tremendously capable Dorothy and Polly Lister, one step away from being in a pantomime with her humorously despicable Miss Gulch and Wicked Witch.
They all have enough personality to keep the action flowing in the first half but the pizzazz is saved for the second act.
Simon Higlett's design, relatively sparse in the opening scenes, relies heavily on video projections, which makes the grand reveal of Oz all the more spectacular. An art-deco feast in emerald, it compensates for the lack of show-stealing vocal performances.
The use of tinsel for forest creepers when Dorothy’s gang makes their way to the Witch’s castle provides an effective backdrop for bungee-jumping flying monkeys and a jitterbug routine, choreographed by Lucy Cullingford, is one of the show’s most memorable moments.
As a family show, it’s somewhat overlong at two-and-a-half hours, with a couple of scenes involving aerial silk acrobatics adding nothing more than entertaining padding.
More detrimental is the use of projections for the yellow brick road, which is more of a moving mustard-paint splatter than anything that could usefully guide the way.
Despite these minor quibbles, the show has enough heart — and the cast enough gusto — to make it a solid seasonal treat.
Runs until January 25, box office: leedsplayhouse.org.uk
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.