Review: The Wizard of Oz. LEOS. May Hall. Long Eaton

I am not quite sure by what wonderous magic LEOS Musical Theatre Company manage this tonight but even before we enter the buzzing entrance lobby of May Hall in Long Eaton to see The Wizard of Oz musical there is an actual rainbow in the sky above. That’s a real rainbow not a painted bit of publicity. I may be arriving cold and a bit wet tonight but that glowing multi-coloured rainbow has set me up for Dorothy and Toto’s magic journey ‘Somewhere – Over The Rainbow’ in the fantastical land of Oz.

If ever one was in want of cheering up then LEOS’ The Wizard of Oz running at May Hall 5-9th April is definitely the show to see. It’s full of all the familiar characters that generations of fans old and new would expect to see and all faithfully reproduced on stage. Yes, if you are a friend of Dorothy, and who isn’t, you can sit back and watch her plucky adventures as she is blown from Kansas to the merry old land of Oz. Even sourpusses will have their hearts melted by show stealing Toto the dog played with tail wagging gusto by local dog Peggy.

Amy Parker makes a winningly sweet Dorothy with vocals that are perfect for the role. Harvey Latter is a scatter brained and floppy audience favourite as the lovable Scarecrow and Gavin Owen puts the positive into the term creaky performance as Tinman – a sad creature without a heart. Matthew McAuley clearly loves his role as Cowardly Lion as do this audience tonight. As he melts inside his furry costume the stage lights up every time he sings and tries to be brave against all the world throws at him. All the fantasy characters have a ‘If only ‘ song as they yearn for a brain, a heart and the nerve. Like all of the large cast their singing is high quality stuff. And we know that Toto would sing ‘If only’ he hadn’t eaten the sheet music backstage.

Director Emma Collins and Choreographer Rachel Murray have clearly worked hard to bring together a super version of the classic The Wizard of Oz that has its own unique style with added quirkiness and costume choices. One of our favourite character and costume decisions is in the apple trees played by Anna McAuley, Mariko Jones and Emily May Corner. Their singing is delightful and comedy timing perfect. Charlotte Daniel (musical director) and her talented nine piece band are musically excellent and pitch perfect throughout.

The Wizard of Oz/ Professor Marvel is brought amusingly to life by the talented Adam Guest. This is the second time Adam has played in a LEO’s production of The Wizard of Oz and the time before he played Cowardly Lion. It is rumoured that Mr Guest has asked the local council to paint the road that goes past his house bright yellow. Always a winner with the ‘Wizard’ audiences are the Wicked Witch of The West played tonight with a touch of evil panache by Milly Bould. The beautiful and good witch Glinda is confidently and magically presented by Amy Glover. Peggy as Toto definitely knows how to work an audience comically and sympathetically especially when tempted by a bit of food on a stick.

The Wizard of Oz is a belter of a show and LEOS entire cast and crew do it musically proud guaranteeing that we all go home humming ‘Yellow Brick Road’, ‘The Merry Old Land of Oz’, ‘If I Were King of The Forest. and ‘Ding Dong The Witch is Dead’. So, anyone thinking of booking please go and support this show. Start by singing ‘We’re Off To See The Wizard’ full blast and then get booking. There’s a storm a brewing you know and this is one storming show.

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