The Wizard of Oz – Bord Gais Energy Theatre – Review

‘The Wizard of Oz’ original music and lyrics by Harold Allen and E.Y Harburg, with additional musical and lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, catapults every adult ‘over the rainbow’ and back into their childhood, in an effervescent production by Nikolai Foster at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre.

Starring Craig Revel Horwood, who does indeed revel in being the Wicked Witch of the West and shows an impressive vocal ability, amongst a hugely energetic and vocally fine cast. Aviva Tulley makes it clear from the outset that she will be a different ‘Dorothy’. Gone is Garland’s vulnerability, replaced by a contemporary rendition of a more together, confident heroine, whose vocal abilities uplifted the stage show from the off and thoroughly impressed throughout in a hugely demanding role.

Ably supported by an expert trio of an agile Benjamin Yates as the ‘Scarecrow’, Femi Akinfolarin’s perfectly pitched ‘Tinman’ and the gigantic Nic Greenshields luscious comedy turn as ‘The Cowardly Lion’.

The heavily supported soundtrack is enhanced vocally and orchestrally to fine effect. The sound overall lifted the energy in the theatre, only topped by the joy of the younger audience who took every step of the ‘yellow brick road’ with our heroes making sure we all got to Oz in style.

Alex Bourne (Wizard) and Emily Bull (Glinda/Aunt Em) rounded off a multi-talented all-singing and dancing troupe that ensured our two-hour or so visit to Oz was all it was hoped to be.

The use of many video graphics, colourful lighting and new orchestrations brought this production into our times. There are lovely homage touches in the backdrops and signage to the original stars on the iconic movie. My favourite was the show poster for the theatre in Oz, now showing ‘Margaret Hamilton – the Musical’ – no doubt it’s a sure-fire hit!

There is fun and joy throughout. A very special mention for the skills of Abigail Matthews who really brought ‘Toto’ to life as a master puppeteer. There is so much to like in this psychedelic production, in fact, you’d want to have a heart of tin not to love it from start to finish!