The Wizard of Oz, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School at the Redgrave Theatre, Clifton

IT’S a bit of a cliche, but the audiences at BOVTS performances really are seeing the stars of the future. And in Peter Leslie Wild’s 2017 Christmas production, Liyah Summers makes the always familiar Dorothy totally her own. She is simply sensational.

She’s not the only one. This crop of students has already impressed itself not just on families and friends and staff, but also on the wider supporters of the world-famous theatre school.

They have chosen the RSC version of Frank Baum’s immortal story of Dorothy from Kansas and her rite of passage, with its clear lines linking real life and the dream world and underlining the message that There’s No Place Like Home.

An excited school audience packed into the Redgrave for the matinee performance, delighted at the evil of Miss Gulch/The Wicked Witch of the West, ducking the attentions of the crows and cheering Dorothy and Toto on their quest.

With Bonnie Baddoo relishing every moment as the baddie, Grainne O’Mahony as the Good Witch, Pedro Leandro as a touching brainless Scarecrow, James Bradwell as the travelling wizard, Alex Wilson as the courageless lion, Cecilia Crossman as the heartless Tin Man and Felix Garcia Guyer as Uncle Henry, supported by a versatile cast of monkeys, munchkins, winkies, villagers, trees and crows, this is a show where everyone has a chance to shine. And, in these post War Horse days, the animation of Toto the puppet dawg is taken by almost all the company at various times.

It is a wonderful show, full of the songs we expect from the original and performed by a brilliant company of singing, dancing actors.  You won’t see a more delightful, fresher and more poignant Wizard of Oz anywhere.  It’s on until 19th December, at various day and evening times.


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