The Wizard of Oz at Theatre Royal

Review: The Wizard of Oz at Theatre Royal

Follow us down the yellow brick road as we head to see The Wizard of Oz at Theatre Royal…

Nicole Wood

Journalist at Luxe

We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz… (if you didn’t just sing that, we need to have words) But yes, if you hadn’t already guessed, The Wizard of Oz has landed in Newcastle!

It might be spring, but it’s a chilly Wednesday evening as we head into the city centre. There’s something about stepping into the Theatre Royal that gives me goosebumps – it never ceases to amaze me. From the beautiful architecture and the classic decor, to the friendly staff, it’s always a stunning venue to visit.

Tonight, we’re here to head over the rainbow and into the merry old land of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz

If, like me, you’re a huge fan of the 1939 classic film, then you’re in for a treat. From the iconic storyline and portrayal of characters, to the toe-tapping musical numbers, this on-stage version stays very close to the original film – with a few modernised and glamorous outfits, of course!

What’s it about?

When thinking about the story of The Wizard of Oz, it immediately takes me back to my childhood, singing along and dancing around in my living room. Musicals are ingrained in me, and this one is certainly no different.

Let me set the scene…

Dorothy, a young girl who lives in Kansas City with her aunt Em and uncle Henry, feels like she doesn’t belong. Feeling misunderstood, she plans to run away from home with her little dog Toto.

The Wizard of Oz

On her journey out of Kansas with Toto by her side, a tornado hits, and when Dorothy awakens, it’s safe to say she isn’t in Kansas anymore.

Waking to a world full of vivid colour, greeted by Glinda the Good Witch of the North and a friendly bunch in Munchkinland, Dorothy quickly realises she’s a long way from home and must return to her family.

The Wizard of Oz

Glinda explains that Dorothy’s house has landed on the Wicked Witch of the East and the only way she can get home is to head to the Emerald City to see the Wizard of Oz. With the Wicked Witch of the East’s powerful ruby slippers magically placed on Dorothy’s feet, Glinda sets her off with a set of very clear instructions: ‘follow the yellow brick road’.

The Wizard of Oz

But of course it’s not as straight forward as that, is it? The Wicked Witch of the West will do anything in her power to take the ruby slippers from Dorothy, making her journey down the yellow brick road anything but smooth sailing.

Along the way, Dorothy meets a unique bunch of friends – a scarecrow, a tin man and a lion – all of which help bring to life the uplifting tale of heart, brains, courage, and friendship!

What’s good about it?

From the minute the lights go down and the action begins, I’m hooked.

This spectacular adaptation finds space to build on the 1939 classic we all know and love. With a modern twist on costumes, paired with striking storytelling, impressive visual effects and high-energy performances, old meets new seamlessly.

The wardrobe team have excelled in this production. While keeping the main characters true to their iconic style we’re all familiar with, there’s a few modernised costumes I’m obsessed with.

The Wizard of Oz

First of all, the vibrancy and uniqueness of the ensemble cast throughout is impeccable. Each and every performance complemented by colourful and whacky costumes is mesmerising.

Next, it has to be Glinda the Good Witch of the North. Think princess fairy meets Barbie. We first meet Glinda as she rides in on her Barbie-esque moped, donning the most beautiful pink sparkly dress, perfectly placed bow, pink leather jacket, and wand in hand.

The Wizard of Oz

And finally, the Wicked Witch of the West with her killer high heels and regal dress which complements the vibrancy of her green skin oh-so perfectly. Oh, and let’s not forget the iconic broom which appears to be kitted out with all of the gadgets needed to cast her wicked spells.

As spellbinding as the costumes are the set design, special effects, musical numbers, and the choreography. Everything about this show is impressive from start to finish.

The Wizard of Oz

Featuring the iconic original score from the Oscar-winning MGM film, including Over The Rainbow and Yellow Brick Road – with additional songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice – the spectacular musical element to the show will have you singing along in your head throughout.

The cast…

Each and every member of the cast plays their part exceptionally well, keeping the audience captivated from the opening line. Everyone who steps out on stage quickly establishes their character, showcases their talent and brings their own interpretation to the role.

Playing Dorothy…

The talented Aviva Tulley takes on the role as Dorothy and oh my, what a portrayal! Her take on the main character was very much like Judy Garland’s portrayal in the film – sweet, innocent and fierce. Her vocals? Wow! Simply out of this world. Her performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow was angelic. Hitting every note, each and every audience member was in awe.

The Wizard of Oz Scarecrow
The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion…

Benjamin Yates, who some might recognise as Olly from Emmerdale, played the role of The Scarecrow brilliantly. Packed with humour, fluidity and impressive vocals, he was a crowd pleaser throughout.

Taking to the stage as The Tin Man is the brilliant Femi Akinfolarin. His performance showcased the loveable charm of the Tin Man perfectly. And that choreography in a tinned costume? Wow!

The fabulous Nic Greenshild brings The Cowardly Lion to life on stage brilliantly. His loveable and hilarious portrayal of the character has the audience hooked from the minute he steps on stage and meets the rest of the gang. You can expect plenty of laughable moments from Nic and his performance.

The Wizard of Oz Lion

The talented Abigail Matthews brings a realistic approach to Toto. While what may seem a little unusual at first, you soon forget there’s a human pulling the strings and the tail-wagging, face-licking, sidekick is one the whole audience falls in love with.

Funny, witty and oh-so engaging is the fabulous Allan Stewart who intrigues the audience through his performance as the powerful and mighty Wizard of Oz.

Taking on the role as Dorothy’s guiding light in both reality and in the world of Oz is Emily Bull. Infused with grace, softness and love, she plays the roles of Aunty Em and Glinda perfectly. Her vocals, much like Aviva Tulley’s, are exceptional and definitely cause a few goosebump moments for sure.

The Wizard of Oz Wicked Witch of the West

A crowd favorite for certain is The Wicked Witch of the West. And who better to bring this iconic role to life than the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, The Vivienne? Her dramatic flair, witty one-liners, and strike of wickedness create the most brilliant wicked witch of them all. A boo-able, yet lovable character.

Who should see it?

Everyone! Whether you’re a fan of the original film, a family looking for fun things to do in the city, or a theatre goer on the lookout for your next cultural fix, this show is guaranteed to put smiles on all faces.

The Wizard of Oz is showing at Newcastle Theatre Royal until 21 April. Tickets are available here or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.