Review: The Wizard of Oz, The Crucible
Follow the yellow brick road down to The Crucible this Christmas for a technicolour theatre trip that tops off a fantastic year in theatre.
The Wizard of Oz musical marks the end of a year of numerous awards for Sheffield Theatres, in which the hit Everybody’s Talking About Jamie also transferred to the West End.
Talented Gabrielle Brooks - who regulars will recognise from the cast of Jamie, and who has a crystal clear voice - plays wide-eyed youngster Dorothy, who seeks escape from her life and mean-spirited neighbour in wide open Kansas.
And boy does she get escape.
An incredibly clever set transformation and prancing dancers in eye-catching costumes bring the tornado which takes Dorothy to Oz to life on stage: not an easy task.
Together with her dog Toto, which stole the show at several points, she accidentally kills the Wicked Witch of the East and sets in motion a rollercoaster chain of events involving weird and wonderful characters.
The giggles pile up as Dorothy collects new friends along her long journey on the yellow brick road to the Emerald City and seeks to defeat the Wicked Witch of the West, who will stop at nothing to snatch her ruby slippers.
There’s scarecrow, who desperately wants a brain but points out that there are plenty of people who can ‘talk am awful lot without one.’
The square-dancing tin man, once unrusted thanks to a can of oil, sings about his lust for a heart, and hilarious scaredy-cat lion (played by Jonathan Broadbent) is seeking the courage he needs to overcome his fears.
There are laugh out loud moments for young and old alike - one in particular involving a poison poppy field, the lion and a misplaced oil can - plus plenty of tiny flashes of humour to revel in.
The audience arrives in Emerald City for the second half, and it’s a non-stop hour or so involving rollerskating monkeys, a terrifying mechanical wizard head and the deadly Jitterbug dance spell.
Catrin Aron shines as the wicked witch, with a theatre-shaking cackle and a broomstick packed with comedic asides.
And when the great wizard is revealed as a mere man, there are heartwarming moments aplenty.
It turns out the scarecrow, tin man and lion had the qualities they sought after all, they just needed to believe. Dorothy had the power to go back to Kansas all along, too.
The final scene in which Dorothy is reunited with her family spells out the true meaning of Christmas to the whole of Sheffield.
Because there really is no place like home.
The Wizard of Oz is at The Crucible until January 20.