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Wizard of Oz NODA Review 2023

Darnall Musical Theatre Company

Presents The Wizard of Oz at the Darnall Education Centre, Sheffield

13th July – 15th July 2023

Director and Assistant Choreographer Janet Black

Musical Director Beth Black

Producer Jack Taylor

Assistant Director Hannah Blackwell

Choreographer Sara Kitchen

I was delighted to be invited to see Darnall MTC perform the well known musical The Wizard of Oz , their first full musical in 15 years. They have continued with their successfully popular pantomimes and occasional concerts but so thrilled they have undertaken this production.

Darnall MTC continue their ethos of family and in true community theatre excel. Mums and Dads, grandparents and youngsters alike all involved to provide their audiences with quality, all-inclusive productions.

The backbone of this show was made up of a long-established production team headed up by Janet Black with Choreography by Sara Kitchen along with Jack Taylor as producer. How fitting over the last few years that life long young members Beth Black as Musical Director and Hannah Blackwell as Assistant Director are passing on their experience and extensive theatre knowledge to the society.

The ideas and vision is clearly there to see, and along with an army of predominantly family helpers, all pulling together to turn those ideas into workable sets, cloths, props and along with well balanced music and effective lighting all add to the continuing feel good factor when visiting Darnall MTC.

The comparative tight performance stage space is cleverly utilized, with stage extensions and steps to either side, along with certain scenes played at audience floor level. The costumes were well thought along with garish head gear . The Winkies, Flying Monkeys, Jitterbugs and Ozians all looked great and what a costuming nightmare it must have been, having up to 40 people in the cast.

Throughout the whole production the whole cast gave their all, the production team devising so many beautiful scenes and maximizing all the stage spaces fully.

Dorothy performed by Darcy Tanner gave a truly memorable performance with excellent singing and acting, showing all the emotions the part requires. Your time with Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow were all played really well and the kindness and care shown was felt to me as an audience member. Your opening solo of Somewhere over the Rainbow set the standard for the musical to come.

How wonderful to see two new performers taking the roles of Aunt Em / Glinda performed by Charlotte Hunt and also Miss Gulch/ Witch performed by Gemma Fairclough. You both gave powerful and totally believable performances . Kindness and thought along with bitterness and anger all delivered with excellent clarity, well done.

Uncle Henry / Guard performed by Imogen Harris, well done, another well-acted part. I particularly enjoyed your role as the guard which was played with authority and poise along with a lovely singing voice well done.

Jack Taylor as both Professor Marvel and The Wizard, lovely cameo roles played with just the right pace , showing the nasty side whilst being hidden and then your true self , that you weren’t simply all gusto at all.

Of course, you can’t have the Wizard of Oz without The Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Lion. These iconic roles were taken by Hannah Blackwell , Charlie Betts and Beth Black.

Hannah initially playing Hunk, Charlie playing Hickory and Beth playing Zeke. The three farm hands prior to the storm . I really enjoyed the way you all played these parts ,in many ways showing the characteristics of your main character roles to come.

Beth Black as Lion, you never let your character drop once , even when side stage or hugging the proscenium, a glance , the roll of the head, the look of fear, interspersed with ,the great I am , with quality singing and interactions with other cast.

Charlie Betts as Tin Man, another excellently performed role requiring high levels of discipline , maintaining stiff restricted movement , whilst delivering clear lines along with lovely interactions with Dorothy, The Lion and Scarecrow.

The Scarecrow performed by Hannah Blackwell totally convincing performance played and acted to the highest order, I hope your knees survive you’re falling down. Your singing was a joy to listen to and the way you worked together was special. You three along with Dorothy should be proud of your performances,

I must mention Mia Hull as the Mayor , what a beautiful confident voice and very convincing acting , a lovely role played well.

Throughout the musical I really enjoyed the ensemble work , acting as Jitterbugs, Ozians, Flying Monkeys, Winkies and much more. The two yellow brick road girls,the cast creating the storm, the group singing Yo he ho, the delivery of one word at the end of a song, the cast went silent and one of the smallest ensemble said … DEAD.. brilliant.

I really enjoyed how the stage movement was carried out seamlessly allowing the pace to continue throughout.

Ensemble members and smaller named cameo parts. You will forgive me for not mentioning many of you by name, but you are definitely no less important. A famous theatre saying is … there are no small parts in theatre….only small actors.

I have left one person until the end as this was one of the most demanding roles to play. Being a puppeteer requires discipline to not detract from the puppet you are controlling, Toto by Lola Hull. Really well done, you never wavered from your role, a great performance.

Thank you to all the many unsung heroes , off stage back stage front of house and all the other responsibilities that make theatre possible.

Thank you all for another excellent evening at Darnall MTC and I wish you all success with The Wizard of Ox,

Philip Smith

Noda NE District 6 Reg Rep

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