Review: The Wizard of Oz

Written by on December 23, 2023


Review: The Wizard of Oz

Liverpool Empire – 15th December 2023 by Jamie Griffiths

Join Dorothy, Toto and friends on an unforgettable adventure down the yellow brick road to the merry old land of Oz. Featuring the iconic original score from the Oscar-winning MGM film, including Over The Rainbow, Follow The Yellow Brick Road and We’re Off To See the Wizard – with additional songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice – this spectacular production will be a truly magical experience for all the family this Christmas.



Any fan of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK will know that Season #1 winner The Vivienne is a multitalented singer, seamstress and comedienne, but her performance as the Wicked Witch of the West is a revelation. It was a privilege to see and hear the reception she got in front of a home crowd too. Not only does she look flawless but her stage presence and vocal talents complement every scene she’s in, without overshadowing her costars, or the plot. The introduction of new music from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to this classic musical gives The Vivienne and Alex Bourne’s “Wizard” some extra moments to shine too.

Whilst much will (rightly) be made of The Vivienne’s role, there are a number of notable stars of the show, and top of the list is Aviva Tully – I got goosebumps every time she sang and her delivery was both expressive and note perfect. Also on my notable list was, and this surprised me, Toto. There are many great examples of animals with strong characterization on the stage (War Horse and Life of Pi are two that immediately spring to mind) and Abigail Matthews’ Toto is up there with them. Watching that little dog scamper around the stage was a delight. Aston Merrygold (Tin Man), Benjamin Yates (Scarecrow) and Nic Greenshields (Cowardly Lion) make for great sidekicks along the journey, never overplaying their hand and delivering some nice harmonies.

The staging is an absolute assault on the senses – with its incredibly vivid palette and creative use of HD graphics. The use of a post apocalyptic/alternative dimension New York was an interesting style choice, complete with some nice easter eggs for those friends of Dorothy in the audience. I’m not sure the strong visuals always gelled with such a classic score but I was certainly here for the ride and enjoyed every second of this fresh adaptation.
Shay Barclay’s choreography is varied, energetic and matches the vivid setting, with the dance sequences adding a much needed dose of old school spectacle. Director (and Matinee favourite) Nikolai Foster has another hit on his hands and this will be the icing on the cake for audiences visiting the theatre in Liverpool this festive season.

Get ticket details and more show information from the official site HERE.

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