MusicalNorth East & YorkshireReview

The Wizard of Oz – Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Reviewer: Jacob Bush

Original Book: L. Frank Baum

Music: Harold Arlen

Lyrics: E.Y. Harburg

Additional Music and Adaptor: Andrew Lloyd Webber

Additional Lyrics: Tim Rice

Adaptor: Jeremy Sams

Director: Nikolai Foster

Following festive runs in Leicester and Liverpool, with a summer season in London in between, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation ofThe Wizard of Ozis enjoying a sell out UK tour and this week stops off in Sheffield.

The Wizard of Oztells the incredibly well known story by L. Frank Baum of young girl Dorothy Gale who finds herself whisked off the land of Oz with her dog Toto. There she goes on an adventure meeting magical friends (and foes) to find her way back home, eventually learning that home is where the heart is. Boasting world famous songs by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, such as Over the Rainbow and Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead, and fun new additions from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, such as Red Shoes Blues and Already Home, this is a great show for all the family.

Nikolai Foster brings some creativity to how he interprets moments of the show but, on the whole, this show will give youThe Wizard of Ozthat you know and love. It is disappointing, however, that the winged monkeys audiences will expect to see fly never take off. Shay Barclay’s choreography is energetic and varied, whilst projection designer Douglas O’Connell really keeps the show moving despite minimal set. Colin Richmond’s set design has been stripped back a little since its run at the London Palladium. It is colourful, but more practical sets wouldn’t have gone amiss – this show is very reliant on video backdrops. Rachael Canning’s costumes are also very colourful and work perfectly for the show, finding a nice balance between being creative and upholding the tradition surrounding the piece. Canning’s Toto puppet is adorable, brought to life effortlessly at this performance by Tyler Ephraim.

Headlining the cast in Sheffield, and across a number of other venues, isRuPaul’s Drag Race UKchampion The Vivienne as the Wicked Witch of the West. She brings to life the menacing character wonderfully, towering over the rest of the cast, whilst capably finding a few moments for comedy as well. Vocally she sounds strong, giving a good rendition of Red Shoes Blues, arguably the most popular added song in this version ofThe Wizard of Oz. Opposite The Vivienne, as Glinda (as well as Aunt Em) is Emily Bull. Bull is sublime in both roles. She looks wonderful as the Glinda who could be straight out of theBarbiemovie, and she sounds wonderful soaring up to the high notes with ease. Bull and The Vivienne play off each other really well, giving the good vs. evil back and forths the audience want.

Leading the cast is relative newcomer Aviva Tulley as Dorothy. She brings a refreshing innocence and naivety to the role and does complete justice to Over the Rainbow, as well as the other songs she sings. She has a wonderful chemistry with all of the rest of her Yellow Brick Road friends.

Benjamin Yates demonstrates his impeccable comic timing as the Scarecrow, as well as some powerhouse vocals. Marley Fenton, relatively early in his career, fills the boots of the Tin Man (that have been clearly moulded to Ashley Banjo who starred at the Palladium) effortlessly. His dance ability is very strong and sells the added rap verse as if it’s been in the show forever. Nic Greenshields brings to life the Cowardly Lion perfectly, with plenty of humour and a wonderfully rich vocal performance.

Completing the principal cast is Alex Bourne as Professor Marvel and The Wizard. His rendition of Wonders of the World, Professor Marvel’s new song, is lovely and he plays into the phoniness of the Wizard in a way that this reviewer hasn’t seen before – a refreshing new take on the role.

The Wizard of Ozis a colorful, energetic production and, whilst it may lack some of the spectacle and magic that the original 2011 Palladium production had, it is still a fun evening or afternoon out for all ages. Your reviewer has previously seen this production at Curve and the Palladium and can say that here, on tour, it feels in its strongest iteration so far.

Runs until 3rd February 2024, before continuing on tour.

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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