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East Midlands
posted/updated: 25 Oct 2017 -
The Wizard of Oz
By arrangement with MusicScope and Stage Musicals Limited of New York
society/company: Northampton Musical Theatre Company (directory)
performance date: 24 Oct 2017
venue: Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton NN1 1DP
reviewer/s: Alex Wood (Sardines review)

NMTC’s shows are always impressive and this was proved once again by this production of The Wizard of Oz, which was a delight.

Acting and singing were of a very high standard. At the centre of the story is Dorothy, the farm girl from Kansas, played by Samantha Perryman. Hardly ever off stage Samantha showed a very good understanding of the role, with the audience on her side from the moment she appears. She was more than ably supported throughout the show by Ben Stanton (Zeke/Cowardly Lion), Luke White (Hickory/Tinman) and Gordon Ritchie (Hunk/Scarecrow). All three were spot on in their characterisations – well done lads. Particular praise goes to Ben whose portrayal of the lion, without any showboating, won over the audience.   

This very strong quartet of players were impressive throughout the show. 

Brett Hanson played a grouchy Uncle Henry just right, transforming himself into the self important and bumbling Guard to the Emerald City to great comic effect. Jay Snedker went from homely Aunt Em to caring and magical Glinda with ease. Mark Woodham was suitably kindly as Professor Marvel and very believable as the Wizard (in both his forms) though at times I felt he needed to be just a bit more confident. 

I felt that Ashleigh Maddison gave a brilliant performance as Miss Gultch and the Wicked Witch of the West. Word perfect with totally clear diction and ‘that voice’ we all quite rightly expect, Ashleigh was every inch the scary villain she needs to be. 

A strong group of principals were given excellent support by the rest of the cast. I especially enjoyed the performance of the Trees and great work in the big, impressive dance number ‘Jitterbug’. 

A great deal of work has been invested in the children’s ensemble for this show. And it paid off with  the Emerald Team I saw this evening. Without exception, sharp, clear diction and singing supported by very good dancing and movement  did the youngsters involved huge credit. 

And well done to Boo, who was Toto on the night I saw the show. 

It is some measure of the ambition of NMTC that Graham Tear, their musical director led an orchestra of no less than 23 musicians. Their excellent work really did make this a magnificent show. 

The Wizard of Oz was performed against the backdrop of a suitably colourful and very well designed set – and I liked very much the use of projection in the ‘twister’ interlude. Costumes were of a high standard. Sound (and especially sound balance) was just right and lighting was excellent. 

Overall, I have to say that while the first half of this show seemed faultless (although, for me, the transformation from the farm to  the forest took too long ) I got the impression there were one or two glitches in the second half. The flying sequence for one looked a little less than perfect – which for safety reasons if nothing else it needs to be. 

Overall though, this show is a great triumph for director Martyn Knight and his team.

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