"Toto...we're not in Kansas anymore" uttered Dorothy in the 1939 film with Judy Garland. While I'm not sure how far the Emerald City is from Kansas, in 2023, the action was transported approximately 4500 miles away, as Dorothy and co began their epic adventures from the rather more understated town of Stowmarket.
This adaptation of The Wizard of Oz by Mike Akers was the second of the Theatre Royal's newly commissioned plays under their innovative Commissioning Circle programme, and after the success of The Secret Garden last summer, I'm happy to report that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was just as good.
Led by the duo of Dorothy and Toto, played by the charming Darcy Manning and the charismatic Ronan Quiniou, this was an enchanting and visually engaging production that's perfect to entertain the kids this summer.
Whether it was Darcy's gorgeous vocals, Daniel Walford's brilliant dancing Tinman, or the wonderful young company hurtling around the stage as the flying monkeys, there was never a dull moment in the show.
The set design from Morgan Brind was a wonder to behold, making full use of the revolve on the stage to quickly transport us from indoors to outdoors, as well as showing off a lovely set piece in the gates to the Emerald City. Costumes too were fantastic, helping to boost the show's visual appeal, particularly those of Scarecrow, Lion, and the flying monkeys.
The young company rattled through their dialogue on stage in a sharp, professional manner, and handled what, at times, was fairly challenging choreography with ease. Speaking of choreography, I particularly enjoyed the 'walking' routines involving the five friends (Dorothy, Toto, Tinman, Scarecrow, and Lion), where they were jumping on and off the moving revolve - I'm not a keen dancer by any stretch, but I really wanted to join in!
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is another triumph for the Theatre Royal, once again seamlessly blending the professionals alongside community cast members in a wonderfully captivating production. I can't wait to see what they've got in store for next summer.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz continues at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds until 2nd Sept.