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Centre Stage Company's Wizard of Oz show at Haverhill Arts Centre soars over the rainbow

Centre Stage have done it again. They’ve smashed it. This time with the illustrious Wizard of Oz, in six shows at the Haverhill Arts Centre last week.

Everything was perfect about this sumptuous adaption of the iconic musical, right down to the casting of Toto.

The strengths of this rendition, apart from the impeccable casting, were the direction and the special effects.

Faye Dower as Dorothy in the Centre Stage's Wizard of Oz. Picture: Alison Harris Photography
Faye Dower as Dorothy in the Centre Stage's Wizard of Oz. Picture: Alison Harris Photography

It is no small feat to translate the film version to the limits of a stage, but each necessary special effect was recreated imaginatively and creatively. Faye Dower excelled as Dorothy and, for my money, out-Dorothied even Judy Garland. If such a feat is possible. She had, in abundance, all the qualities needed for this role, and she made it her own.

Faye was more than ably supported by the rest of the team, and the character allocation was spot on.

Cian Harriss as Scarecrow, Jason Ándre as Lion and James Player as Tin Man were all superb and produced accurate portrayals of the parts made famous by the film actors.

There was plenty to smile about in the other castings, too, and director David Hart and producer Claire Harvey must have been pleased with their choices.

Sam Barker’s Wicked Witch of the West was outstanding: humourous and very witch-like. Glinda (Billie Allen) played the nice witch and Graeme Johnston made a notable Wizard of Oz, as did Alan Barney, his guard.

Aunty Em (Jackie Parker) and Uncle Henry (Andy Letcher) were also just right. Even Pippa, as Toto the dog, behaved perfectly throughout, despite the loud bangs, flashes of light, explosions and shouting near to her.

The band were excellent and added to the success hugely. We need to thank Karen Chinery, musical director, for this, as well as the players themselves.

My favourite song was Jitterbug, in which the band and the on-stage dancers fused together wonderfully to create a magical number. Choreographer Peter Dedman must have been proud of his protégés.

The junior chorus played the Munchins, Poppies and the Flying Monkeys, and should take praise for adding to the production with their energy.

And thanks to the adult chorus for their marvellous dancing and singing in the bigger numbers.

All in all, a magnificent performance.

Review by Roger McCartney.

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