A truly magical performance

Back home in Kansas.
Back home in Kansas.

REVIEW: The Wizard of Oz, performed by Newcastle-upon-Tyne Musical Theatre Company, at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, from Tuesday, July 25, to Saturday, July 29.

We went to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz....eventually!

Dorothy and a Munchkin.

Dorothy and a Munchkin.

Indeed, our trip along The Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy and the gang was delayed after the opening night’s show was cancelled just before the curtain was due to come up.

A technical incident meant that Newcastle-upon-Tyne Musical Theatre Company had to scrap their Tuesday evening performance at short notice.

Not a good start! But, the remaining shows of the company’s five-day run did go ahead as planned. Phew!

We were lucky enough to be able to exchange our Tuesday night tickets with seats for the Friday evening. And we’re glad we did, as this talented company’s version of L Frank Baum’s classic tale was worth the wait.

The gang meet the Good Witch of the North.

The gang meet the Good Witch of the North.

On this evidence, you wouldn’t know that the group is made up of amateurs, as the production felt professional in every way. It was slick, the dance routines were polished, songs were executed superbly and the cast shone brighter than Emerald City in the sun!

Leading the way was Victoria Monaghan, as Dorothy. She was tremendous, capturing the part beautifully with a gentle and sweet portrayal of the girl from Kansas, with all the innocence and exuberance that the character demands.

She also handled Toto – aka Sunny the dog, from North Shields – really well. Working with a real animal during live theatre cannot be easy, but she was up to the task. By that measure, Sunny should also take a bow, because this four-legged cast member was impeccably behaved throughout.

Monaghan – who shared the role with Lucy Conroy – was well supported by Jonathan Cash, Dan Greener and Jonny Hill, or as they’re known in Oz: the Cowardly Lion, Tin Woodsman and Scarecrow. They were larger than life, breathing real energy into their parts. Meanwhile, Claire Blake was delightfully evil as the Wicked Witch of the West.

Dorothy meets Scarecrow.

Dorothy meets Scarecrow.

The stellar cast was joined by children who played the parts of the Munchkins. For me, this part of the show – when Dorothy lands in Oz and is welcomed to Munchkinland – was the highlight, thanks to these enthusiastic youngsters.

Colourful sets and clever lighting gave Oz a vibrant, in-your-face, over-the-top feel, while the costumes were top notch – especially the Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman.

Excellently directed by Pauleen Gilbert, it was a magical show which put the wonderful into the Wizard of Oz.

cast: Lucy Conroy; Victoria Monaghan; Linda Short; Dan Fisher; Jonathan Cash; Dan Greener; Jonny Hill; Claire Blake; Nikki Cunningham; Ken Allan; Chris Jones; Lindsay Gill; Judy Mahoney; Bryony Souza-Hawkins; Carl Luke; Leon McGuiness; Adam Waugh; Sara Blair; Katie Chambers; Sophie Clark; Sheila Coleman; Danielle Hall; Sharon Jones; Christine Lewin; Lisa Powell; Cindy Redhead; Lisa Roach; Ruth Scott; Jacqui Simpson; Kate Sword; Laura Wood; Alex Cronin; James Hardy; Jack Hindmarch; Kyle Jones; Philip Mezzo; Cameron Powell; Steve Tawse; Sam Vernon; Lexie Allman; Katy Atkinson; Lola Bradbury; Hollie Cairns; Lewis Chirimuta; Riley Chivers; Katie Conroy; Jessica Corbridge; Adam Drummond; Xanthe Elliot; Heather McCann; Skye McMahon; Olivia Peel; Alecia Pennock; Beth Richardson; Anna Skipsey; Mac Toal; Evie Templeton; Amelia Turnbull; Abigail Wafer; Hayley Walters; Kian Whittingham; Cara Baxter; Isabelle Bennet; Daisy Buckley; Lydia Cubley; George Dickman; Olivia Doidge; Polly Dowling; Tamsin Forster; Keira Hamilton; Lily Hardman; Poppy Keith; Scarlet Latimer; Harley Leslie; Elysse McDearmid; Holy Mostyn; Ruby Reavill; Hannah Sanderson; Adam Stephenson; Phoebe Wouldhave; Sophie Wright.

Welcome to Munchkinland.

Welcome to Munchkinland.

The gang arrive at Emerald City and are welcomed by the guard.

The gang arrive at Emerald City and are welcomed by the guard.