It’s certainly a huge challenge to stage a musical that is so well known, with so many characters and with so many immediately identifiable songs, but CPYT met the task head-on, and a considerable success they made of it too.
Backed by an accomplished 16-piece orchestra under MD Nigel Finch, this talented cast gave their all, and the whole show was clearly the result of months of hard work under the overall direction of William Ross-Jones and his creative and technical team.
Most people will know most of the story; that of farm girl Dorothy and her beloved pet dog Toto, whisked away by a cyclone which transports her to the land of Oz, where she meets and befriends, among other characters, a Scarecrow with no brain, a Tin Man with no heart, and a Lion with no courage. As the story unfolds, these three all achieve what they desire, but not without first having to overcome The Wicked Witch of the West (an evil, green-faced Immie Crabtree), flying monkeys, jitterbugs, crows, an army of Winkies, and, of course, the Wizard of Oz himself.
The four main characters are on stage almost throughout and their strong and mutually supportive relationship has clearly been well forged in the rehearsal room; in her CPYT debut as Dorothy, Dannii Murphy did herself proud, singing one of the most famous songs in the musical theatre canon, ‘Over The Rainbow’. As the Scarecrow, Grace Warne was delightfully floppy and demonstrated an attractive voice in her ‘If I Only Had A Brain’ number. Hamish Naylor showed considerable prowess both singing and tap-dancing as The Tin Man (in continual need of oiling!) while Sam Archer-Scott’s Lion was perfectly cowardly (or so he thought).
Other stand-out performances came from Ella Rich as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, Amy Tilston as the Emerald City Guard, Summer Hughes as the mean Miss Gulch, and Noah Eades, doubling as both the Professor and the eponymous Wizard. Huge credit, too, to choreographer Kiera Leech and her assistant Ashley Sheath, not just for their inventive dance routines, but for achieving the near-impossible task of getting the 50-plus chorus to all make the same moves at the same time!
Congratulations, too, to Head of Wardrobe Nicki Moorhouse and her team for the splendid array of specialist costumes, giving the show the colour and sparkle that L.Frank Baum’s original book demanded. With the week’s run all but sold out, CPYT can be justifiably proud of this show which is destined to be fondly remembered for many years to come.