The Wizard of Oz at Chichester Festival theatre REVIEW: 'They act, sing and dance their way through Oz like professionals'

Always the highlight of the Chichester Winter season, the Chichester Festival Theatre’s home-grown Youth Theatre are back and this year they’re treating us to The Wizard of Oz.

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 8:32 am
Updated Thursday, 19th December 2019, 8:32 am
Chichester Festival Youth Theatre perform The Wizard of Oz. Picture by Helen Murray
Chichester Festival Youth Theatre perform The Wizard of Oz. Picture by Helen Murray

Those Arlen and Harburg songs, so well-known from the 1939 film, are sung brilliantly by the cast who particularly shine with those 1930s-style harmonies. The script has been updated, not always for the better, but with some modern references that will appeal to the younger audience.

The ensemble dancing, too, is impressive, particularly the dancing poppies and the Winkies.

Creatively, the setting is simple and – particularly the opening of the show – beautiful. Reflecting the film’s use of monochrome, we’re presented with a wide-open Kansas plain, a house, a tornado – all black, white and grey until Oz colours Dorothy’s life.

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The principal actors on press night impressed. All triple-threat performers, they act, sing and dance their way through Oz like professionals. Ella O’Keefe’s feisty Dorothy also manages the pathos well. Joe Clines gives heart to the heartless Tin Man way before the Wizard does and Richard Chapman’s camp Cowardly Lion is a joy.

Particular mention to the wonderful Ellie Dickens as Toto both for her performance and for coping with a disintegrating prop and, while I hate to pick out one performance above the others, I’m going to because it’s worthy of mention. Alfie Scott as the Scarecrow is sublime. He never gives less than one-hundred per cent in his creative, original and outstanding performance and his focus would be the envy of many professionals.

Another wonderful CFYT performance.