STUDIO32’s production of The Wiz played to packed audiences this week, and what a sensation it was. The company has a reputation for staging high quality musical theatre and once again they delivered. From the moment the lights went up until the final curtain the audience was treated to a fabulous professional-standard show.
Sarah Hopewell put in a truly powerful performance throughout the show in the lead role of Dorothy. She was totally believable in her character, with some wonderful facial expressions and mannerisms that drew the audience into the land of Oz.
As Dorothy was whisked away to Oz in a tornado we were treated to a fascinating dance interpretation of a tornado, with lighting and sound effects to match that carried the audience with Dorothy to the magical land. In Oz we were introduced to the first witch, Addaperle the Good Witch of the North, played by Lynn Preston, whose scatty characterisation and superb comic timing was both hilarious and a joy to watch throughout the show.
Then in turn we were introduced in song to the three well-known companions that accompany Dorothy on her travels – the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. Firstly we met the Scarecrow, portrayed by Suzy Bradley with a great sense of comedy and physical dexterity.
Next up was the Tin Man, played by Nick Morgan, whose saucy and sexy interpretation was both hilarious and entertaining. Lastly we met the Cowardly Lion, played by Andy Kirkwood, who commanded the stage with an endearing performance that had the audience laughing and crying in their seats.
All three companions put in fine solo performances in their songs, with some lovely backing vocals from the singing group on each of the numbers – Henk Vegelin, Charlotte McCowat, David Bishop and Maria Coomber. At the end of the first half we finally got to meet the title role, the Wiz, played by experienced actor Bill Nicholson.
A stunning entrance, accompanied by great lighting, sound and special effects, was followed up throughout the show by a strong performance as the wacky wizard.
The second half of the show opened with the introduction of the evil witch of the west, played superbly by Rose Maclean; her solo number “No Bad News” was one of the highlights of the show, with excellent vocal accompaniment and company support.
This is quite a pantomime character and the audience were more than willing to supply raucous booing and hissing in good quantity – just what’s needed to start the Christmas season! And as always the good fairy, or in this case the good witch Glinda, appears to help save the day.
Ann Bell put in a fine performance in this role, with two good solo songs and a sweet affectionate character that countered the evilness of the wicked witch.
Supporting the main characters were a number of minor roles, all performed to a high standard, played by Luke Ringrose and Caroline Sim. Not surprisingly audiences gave all of the performers a well-deserved and much-appreciated standing ovation at the end of the finale.
Company numbers throughout the show were performed with energy and enthusiasm, with well-choreographed dances involving up to thirty people at a time. “Brand New Day” and “Y’All Got It” were particularly memorable, and had the audience clapping along to the tunes. Versatility was the name of the game, with the audience treated to Munchkins, Crows, Poppies, Kalidahs and Flying Monkeys.
A special mention must go to the wonderful costumes – colourful, inventive and a credit to the company’s talented wardrobe mistress Nicole Vallins.
STUDIO32 productions have a reputation for professional staging, and this show was no exception, with an impressive technical performance from sound and stage crew, and amazing lighting including some fabulous pyrotechnical effects for the wizard. Director/choreographer Susan Zillah Wilson has delivered another superb show with the company, setting a high professional standard.
Chairman Philip Wilson commented: “It’s a great feeling knowing that you’ve given audiences a show to remember, and we look forward to welcoming theatre-goers back to our summer show at the end of May next year.
We’ve raised 3,500 euros for charities with this show, meaning that in the five years since the company was formed we’ve raised well over 32,000 euros. I’m very proud of everyone who has worked so hard to make this show such a success.”
So where next for this very talented musical theatre company? They’ve just announced their summer 2019 show, the well-known Cole Porter musical Anything Goes. Tickets are already on pre-order and early booking is strongly recommended. For information on STUDIO32 and their shows visit their website www.studiothirtytwo.org