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Reviewed: Wizard of Oz at Curve

There’s no place like Curve this Christmas!

Ruby Shoes by Thomas Rowe (Parachute Collective). Photography by Marc Brenner

Although The Wizard of Oz is not directly a Christmas story, the 1939 American musical film is commonly streamed over the festive season.

Adapted from the 1900 children's fantasy novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it's one of those classic movies that is loved by so many, making it a smart choice for Leicester’s Curve to allow Dorothy Gale’s dream world to take the spotlight of their 2022 Christmas show.

Having been postponed for the last few years due to the pandemic, Curve certainly did not hold back on this festive spectacle.

The stage has never looked so good here in the Cultural Quarter. With a TV-like set up and a screen backing the set with moving pictures (projection by Douglas O’Connell), it was often hard to know where to look at times.

Photography by Marc Brenner

During the pre-dream cyclone sequence, it wouldn’t have been a surprise for Curve to throw in some 4D elements. I was so immersed in the magic of theatre that if a gust of wind blew or my chair started to rattle and spin I wouldn’t be taken by surprise.

Scenes like these certainly weren’t a (natural) disaster and credit is well and truly due to the set design by Colin Richmond, choreography by Shay Barclay, costume by Rachael Canning and direction by Nikolai Foster.

The cast had the audience hooked from Kansas-to-Oz-and-back with their seamless performances. Georgina Onuorah shone as Dorothy with a goosebump-worthy rendition of "Over the Rainbow" under her plaid belt.

Photography by Marc Brenner

The three boys; Jonny Fines as Scarecrow, Paul French as Tin Man and Giovanni Spanó as Lion were as loveable as they were entertaining.

I nervously anticipated these meet-cute scenes, especially having a boyfriend who has played the friend in need of a brain, an Oz fanatic mum (who attended the Curve press night with me on behalf of Niche Magazine) who routinely performs the Tin Man dance every Christmas, and a dad who’s impression of the Lion is a core childhood memory of mine.

However, my apprehension about these roles disappeared as quickly as the Wicked Witch of the East following such flawless performances from all.

Photography by Marc Brenner

During this particular show, we also had the pleasure of watching the Wicked Witch of the West’s understudy Ellie Mitchell. She was as evil as she was mesmerising, perfectly contrasting the bubbly nature of her cousin Glinda, played by Christina Bianco.

The loudest applause of the night - aside from the finale - certainly went to "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" and "The Merry Old Land Of Oz". Both of which have been stuck in my head since we left Curve.

The only performance that I’m sure left many slightly concerned to begin with was Toto. Toto was played by Ben Thompson who brought the famous pooch to life through puppetry. I didn’t think it was going to work given how small Toto is, but I was quickly proven wrong. At times, I couldn't take my eyes away from the tail-wagging sidekick.

There were a few more surprises along the way, but nothing big enough that it took you away from the magic in the merry old land of Oz that we all know and love. The classic story has not been changed by Curve, but it has had a modernised re-fresh that perhaps such an outdated concept needed.

(L-R) Ben Thompson (Toto), Jonny Fines (Scarecrow), Georgina Onuorah (Dorothy), Paul French (Tin Man) and Giovanni Spanó - Photography by Marc Brenner

Following Curve’s success this winter, parents may find children disappointed by the original should it be aired on TV over the festive period. For a first-time viewer, this would certainly be more entertaining, which is exactly why this makes the perfect Christmas treat for the family (recommended for ages 6+).

The Made at Curve production will be running until January 8, 2023. Click your heels three times and get transported over the rainbow by booking your tickets here.


1 Comment

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