It’s a classic. I’m talking The Wizard of Oz. Whether your family has seen the 1939 film version with Judy Garland or you know the iconic songs like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”, you are probably familiar with the story. Young People’s Theatre brings the story to life for kids this Spring.
I don’t know if creating a production is easier or harder when you’re working with such a well known tale. I find I’m harder as a judge since my expectations are already in place. The story is not much of a surprise but I did enjoy the quirkiness in the performance at Young People’s Theatre. The Wicked Witch (Amy Matysio) and Glinda (Jamie McRoberts added a little sass to their roles, keeping in character for the kids but with a little sly side humour with the parents in mind.
No surprise the performance was a musical and you can expect your favourite tunes from The Wizard of Oz to be included in this production. Kuddos to the team for adding their own touch to the songs, even if it was only as the song’s lead-in. I must say I loved the departure from the sleeping poppy scene to a more upbeat dance number, the Jitter Bug (even if the Jitter Bug himself was a little scary).
Young People’s Theatre kept the fantastical colourful world I have come to expect from Dorothy’s imagination, incorporating bright customs and set elements. I also enjoyed how the props were used to transition from different stages within the story, like moving the set pieces around during the tornado and bringing Toto from a puppet into a real character.
Sometimes having a production ingrained in your mind from childhood can make it hard to see things differently. I’m not sure if it was me or the actors but I found both Dorothy (Vanessa Sears) and Lion (Justin Butt) were played very close to my recollection from the movie. This didn’t take away from my enjoyment but it did cause me to pause.
Young People’s Theatre production of The Wizard of Oz runs from April 4 until May 15, 2016. Although it is recommended form children from JK to grade 6, both my teen daughter and I enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. The non-stop 90-minute production was fun and colourful, keeping to the story we all know and love but with a few twists to keep it fresh. The cast seemed to really enjoy what they were doing, including the audience in their adventure. I would certainly recommend this production to any family.
For more information on the performance and to purchase tickets visit the Young People’s Theatre website, or connect them with them on Instagram, twitter and facebook. If you thought really good theatre was only meant for adults, this version of The Wizard of Oz will have you changing your mind.
Photo: (L-R): Amy Matysio, Nathan Carroll, Justin Bott, David Coomber, Vanessa Sears, Matthew G. Brown, Alana Hibbert and Jamie McRoberts in a scene from The Wizard of Oz at Young People’s Theatre (Apr. 4-May 15); Set Design by David Boechler, Costume Design by Robin Fisher, Lighting Design by Louise Guinand | Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann