Monday, October 26, 2015



Brentwood Operatic Society at the Brentwood Theatre


A stylish Wiz at Brentwood, with excellent ensemble and some impressive principals.
This “supersoul” reworking of the Wizard of Oz is forty years old now, but still seems fresh and daring.
Amy Clayton's production begins with an old-fashioned scene cloth and a clothes line. But as the tornado snatches Dorothy [Rachel Lane] from her Kansas home, things become much more interesting. The Twister Sisters ballet introduces the colourful Munchkins [shiny plastic bowlers] and Addapearle [Lauren Tidbury].
Joining her as she eases on down the road are a splendid trio: David Gillett's daffy Scarecrow, Martin Harris's dapper Tinman, and Allister Smith's big old pussycat, with his bouffant mane and his personal stylists. All off to meet the Wiz himself [a nuanced Justin Cartledge] and to liquidate the Wicked Witch of the West [an enjoyably unsubtle Nina Jarram].
Backing their adventures is an ever-changing chorus in varying shades of green – flappers and farm girls, showgirls and demons, cheeky crows and sensual poppies. Some fine work in smaller roles: Jamie Fudge's Gatekeeper, Ben Martins' Monkey. Accents and attitudes are authentic; the pace of the dialogue, though, sometimes seems slow.
This is above all a company show. The chorus choreography is superb; He's The Wiz, for instance, is an unalloyed joy to watch. The revelation of the glamorous throne room is stunning. Only occasionally does the tiny stage seem cramped, the action confused.
Darren Matthews directs his unseen band from the keyboard, conjuring something of the urban African-American idiom from his provincial British company.

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