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Review: The Wizard of Oz, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton





SPECIAL effects dazzled as the big, bold and beautiful Wizard of Oz opened at Southampton Mayflower Theatre this week.

After a successful London Palladium run, the classic show certainly arrived with a bang as the superb cast shone in the ‘Technicolor’ reimagining of L. Frank Baum’s timeless story of courage, perseverance and friendship.

Wizard of Oz TOUR PROD-5239The Wizard of Oz will be at Southampton Mayflower Theatre next week
Wizard of Oz TOUR PROD-5239The Wizard of Oz will be at Southampton Mayflower Theatre next week

Directed by Nikolai Foster, this production proved to be an excellent remedy to the dark January evenings, delivering just over two hours of utter escapism.

Relying heavily on projections and cinematography to create some of the show’s biggest moments, the production was skillfully designed to celebrate the original story while injecting plenty of 21st century magic.

Aviva Tulley as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz
Aviva Tulley as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz

For me, Aviva Tulley stole the show as the feisty and kind hearted Dorothy, not only singing beautifully – particularly in the utterly captivating rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow – but also dancing with incredible energy and precision. Always at her side was her faithful dog Toto, a wonderful puppet which was masterfully controlled by Abigail Matthews.

Wizard of Oz UK Tour PROD-1090The Wizard of Oz will be at Southampton Mayflower Theatre next week
Wizard of Oz UK Tour PROD-1090The Wizard of Oz will be at Southampton Mayflower Theatre next week

Big star name of the show was Dancing On Ice finalist The Vivienne, who brought just the right blend of menace and glamour to the role of Wicked Witch of the West. With a powerful voice and huge charisma, her act two rendition of Red Shoes Blues was a particular highlight of the evening.

Showing that not all witches are wicked, Glinda the good witch (Emily Bull) enjoyed a modern day makeover – appearing on a shiny pink Vespa and brandishing a mobile phone instead of a wand! Back at the farm in Kansas, she was an endearing Aunt Em.

The Wizard of Oz at Southampton Mayflower Theatre
The Wizard of Oz at Southampton Mayflower Theatre

Nic Greenshields demonstrated superb comic timing as the Cowardly Lion, and completing Dorothy’s trio of faithful friends Benjamin Yates as the Scarecrow and Marley Fenton as the Tin Man also put in fabulous performances.

Sets and props were created to enable maximum manoeuvrability for the sizable cast and ensemble – with the movable Yellow Brick Road tiles and the Wicked Witch’s castle particularly well designed to set the scene without overcrowding the stage.

Benjamin Yates as the scarecrow
Benjamin Yates as the scarecrow

Smoothly transforming from quirky Munchkins, to wicked winged monkeys, and the good folk of the Emerald City, the entire ensemble cast were spectacular, executing dazzling dance routines at the drop of a hat. The wonderful retro-inspired costumes further added to the show’s magical appeal.

Wizard of Oz TOUR PROD-5262The Wizard of Oz will be at Southampton Mayflower Theatre next week
Wizard of Oz TOUR PROD-5262The Wizard of Oz will be at Southampton Mayflower Theatre next week

While staying true to many key elements of the much-loved 1939 film, this musical show certainly used digital mastery to reinvigorate the story for a modern era. Aided by a brilliant cast, the Wizard of Oz was fun, fabulous and wonderfully flamboyant. For a perfect escape from the January blues – catch it at Southampton Mayflower Theatre until Sunday 21st January.

For tickets visit www.mayflower.org



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