Amdram's yellow brick road a triumph

By Liz Wylie

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Cowardly Lion (Chris McKenzie), Dorothy (Shaila Hawkins), Toto (Chi Coull), Tin Man (Chris Pedley) and Scarecrow (Andrew Fawcett) in the land of Oz. Photo Bevan Conley.
Cowardly Lion (Chris McKenzie), Dorothy (Shaila Hawkins), Toto (Chi Coull), Tin Man (Chris Pedley) and Scarecrow (Andrew Fawcett) in the land of Oz. Photo Bevan Conley.

I thought I may have arrived late for Amdram's Wizard of Oz production on Saturday night because some actors were already on stage.

After taking my seat, I noticed that they were silent and completely still, providing a tableau before the performance started.

It must be said at the outset that director Melissa Hawkins did not cast her daughter Shaila as Dorothy without auditioning other hopefuls for the part.

Shaila gained the part on her own merits and "Oh my" was she good.

Somehow she managed to channel Judy Garland's performance in the 1939 film while also making the role very much her own.

Dorothy's little dog Toto is played by pomeranian Chi Coull and what a top wee canine she is.

Through being tossed around the cast and abducted by Almira Gulch, she remained very compliant and even appeared to nod off while Dorothy was singing.

Sarah Riley-Curtis, as the wicked witch of the west (and Almira Gulch) was as evil as could be but just comical enough not to scare young audience members.

Huge congratulations must go to Ian Jones and team for set design and construction and the set painters for taking the audience from Kansas to Oz and back again.

Scene changes appeared seamless as the characters appeared and disappeared (and even melted) on the stage.

The Scarecrow (Andrew Fawcett), Tin Man (Chris Pedley) and Cowardly Lion (Chris McKenzie) all played their parts beautifully demonstrating just enough goofiness and vulnerability for their particular traits.

The munchkins were a delight and sang and danced their way through some routines that would have been difficult to learn.

The wardrobe team have done a brilliant job of designing the pantaloons and wired tunics for the children's costumes.

Good witch Glinda (Joanne Angove) was as kind and gracious and pastel pink as I remember the character.

There was some great dancing from Kaylee Andrews, Kieren Spence, Laura Fawcett and Alyssa Hartley, especially the jitterbug scene and they created an impressive illusion of a tornado.

The orchestra, conducted by Lynn Whiteside provided excellent accompaniment and Saskia Bloot's piccolo gave just the right touch of magic to those much-loved songs.

Fans of the Wizard of Oz film version will not be disappointed by this production.

The Saturday night audience were predominantly adults but do take your children to see it if you have some or borrow someone else's if you don't.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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