The Wiz @ Lakeside Arts Centre

The Wiz is a unique super soul musical derived from the classic tale Wizard of Oz. Martin Berry’s adaptation is further enhanced, taking the setting out of America and placing it in 1970s Nottingham. Sound a bit far fetched? Well it was, but the absurdity was what made the musical so enjoyable. The cast put on a truly uplifting show, and the air of professionalism throughout was really impressive.

The sincerity of her performance of ‘Soon As I Get Home’ particularly stood out.

For those of you who don’t know, our story begins with Dorothy being blown away from her Auntie Em’s house in a storm. This storm however was the storm of soul music that swept up the UK in the 70s, portrayed through dance. Using dance to represent physical concepts is often difficult to execute well, but Rebekah Roberts’s choreography was excellent for this number. Charlotte-Louise Brailsford was a wonderful Dorothy, with a sweet, soulful voice that suited the character very well, and her acting was spot on; a young girl trying to find her feet in somewhere foreign and a little scary. The sincerity of her performance of ‘Soon As I Get Home’ particularly stood out, and set the tone for the whole musical.

Along the way, Dorothy meets a plethora of characters starting with Addaperle, the good witch (Becki Scollick), who helps her on her journey. I loved the tone of Scollick’s voice, and her portrayal of the good witch was utterly charming. On her travels to find The Wiz, Dorothy meets the ditsy Scarecrow (Sian Elise Langley), the arrogant Tinman (Ritchie Stainsby) and the not so threatening Lion (Lennon Bradley). Not only were their acting and singing abilities commendable, but the rapport between the four actors was excellent.

There was the odd foot out of place, but this is to be expected with an amateur production.

Mark Coffey-Bainbridge as The Wiz was also fantastic. Owner of nightclub ‘Emerald City’ followed by an abundance of adoring fans, the slight arrogance of this character was played extremely well by Coffey-Bainbridge, whose vocal abilities are exceptional. Also to be commended was Alleisha Furlonge-Royal as bad witch Evillene: the rawness of her voice really fitted well with the Northern Soul theme, complemented by the choreography of the ensemble who made this production what it was. There was the odd foot out of place, but this is to be expected with an amateur production. Katherine Tye’s musical direction ensured the harmonies were polished and that the band was tight.

The rapport between the four actors was excellent.

Apart from the Emerald City, the scenery was sparse. Lighting was used effectively to set the scenes, however I would have liked to have seen a real yellow brick road as this is such an integral part of the plot. It was difficult to tell whether scenes were taking place inside or outside at times, but the plot was easy to follow nonetheless.

In a word, The Wiz is heart-warming. It places an importance the music and dance that was fundamental to many teenagers during this decade. If you need cheering up, or just generally feel like having an enjoyable evening, I urge you to go and see this production. Director Martin Berry and New Street Theatre Company have produced an excellent show.


Lucy Castle

‘The Wiz’ is running until Saturday 25th July. For more information, click here.

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