Arts and Culture

We went off to see the Wizard! And what a wonderful Wizard he “wOZ”

Eighty-five years after one of the most popular films in the world was first released it has now been transformed into a magical family friendly stage production and is being performed right here in Manchester.

Manchester Palace Theatre is showing the wonderful production of The Wizard of Oz for the next 10 days – finishing on 5 May.

It was an emotional yet comedic performance which catered to all viewers young and old. With an explosive start and an emotional end, this performance will have you gripped throughout.

This incredible performance of Dorothy’s journey to get back to Kansas features the iconic original score from the Oscar-winning MGM film including Over The Rainbow, Follow The Yellow Brick Road and We’re Off To See The Wizard with additional songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. 

The unique element to this performance was the immersive and current atmosphere it created with AI and advanced technological backdrops.

This use of new technology dragged me into the show and made me feel apart of the chaos and involved with the characters more than any other time I have watched The Wizard of Oz.

The performance was thoroughly enjoyable with emotional roller coasters throughout which became more effective with the help of the constant bright lights, lighting changes and the phenomenal live band. 

Whilst the show is bursting at the seems with nostalgia, it has also been updated for a modern audience. 

However, no matter how long it has been since I last watched the Wizard of Oz I was still transported right back to my childhood and felt as if I was experiencing the magic of this performance for the first time ever.

A grin was spread across my face throughout the whole performance and a very big laugh was had. 

It had everything a show should have from realistic costumes to perfect harmonies and the smoothest set transitions. 

Award winning comedian Jason Manford who performed as the cowardly lion was comedic throughout and kept a light-hearted edge to the performance even in times of distress. 

Dorothy was such a phenomenal actress who really did bring the “house down” she had some big ruby slippers to fill with it being such an iconic performance, but she did so both beautifully and gracefully with such an elegant and controlled voice.

JLS star Aston Merrygold who starred as the Tin man had the ability to stay in such a challenging character roll throughout the production with very realistic robotic movements in time with every sound effect that was produced. 

It was a very immersive and modernised production with scenes reminiscent of the recent Barbie movie, fulfilled by the ‘Good Witch’ who wore a big pink sparkly dress and drove a pink Moped. Although to an older generation I believe this could have been reminiscent of Penelope Pitstop. 

Another modernisation of this production came towards the end when the Wizard took off back to Kansas in a spaceship instead of hot air balloon like the original.

There were also clever and comedic ideologies throughout the production, they had the idea to change the names of popular food and brands to fit with the ‘Oz’ theme such as: “Ozeon, McOzalds and West Witch Story.” 

The show focussed a lot on little details like these which made the show even more inviting and comforting, it added a more personal feel to such a large and dramatic show.

On a slightly less positive note, one thing I didn’t enjoy as much about the performance was the puppet of Toto, Dorothy’s dog. 

The working of the puppet by a talented actor was very impressive however, it was very difficult to find it realistic.

 As the production went on it was harder to notice and easier to forget but it was a little dissatisfying to begin with. 

The same thing happened with the crows in the scarecrow field, the actors had big yellow suits on beneath their crow hats which were very off putting. 

However overall, this was such a clever and heartfelt production that was incredibly entertaining from the minute it started to the minute it ended. It is a show I would definitely re visit and would recommend to all.

This production includes Lions and tigers and will leave hairs… standing up on the back of your neck, it is definitely a must watch for this April/May.

All images courtesy of Marc Brenner 

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Jamie Shaw
Jamie Shaw
26 April 2024 8:40 pm

Thank you for this great revue we will definitely look to book. It sounds fantastic

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