Family time…

Today has been such a blessing! I had a great day with family. I mean with extended family. A rare occasion to see the Noakes brothers having a great time together, and our girl enjoying the day with her Uncle and girlfriend. It’s priceless!  xxx

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The Wizard of Oz by Showco Bedford

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The Wizard of Oz
Review by Sandra Samwell, NODA

This 1987 RSC adaptation of the perennial classic has become a favourite with youth groups up and down the country and it is easy to see why. The fairy tale plot and haunting score with its scope for colourful costumes and creative choreography make this a delight for the eyes and ears as well as providing ample opportunities for young actors of note.
Showco grasped the opportunity with both hands and made the show their own in a production which pleased at every level. Director, Rebecca Toms, and Musical Director, Chris Phelps, are to be congratulated on an assured and energetic show that made the most of the, largely, excellent facilities at ‘The Place.’
The picture book concept of the set, the live band and the large, but not over-large, cast of many ages from very young to late teenage delighted with their enthusiasm and their ability from the first Kansas moment to the last sighting of a rather splendid yellow brick road.
A cast headed by a most engaging Dorothy played by Alyanna Noakes guided us skillfully through the familiar songs, but also thrilled and frightened us when the need arose. Alyanna’s singing, as with all the other leads, was melodic and strong.
I particularly enjoyed Thomas Mullan’s portrayal of Scarecrow which combined adept physical acting with a personality that extended way beyond the ‘footlights.’ His was the stand-out performance of the show for me in something which boasted many very good performances.
For example,Ashley Miles as Tinman played the most thankless of ‘the three’ beautifully whilst Michael Cotter overcame a somewhat cumbersome costume and heavy make up to convey the humour and pathos of Lion most effectively. Felicity Spencer was a very sweet Toto.
I loved Cassie Dallaire’s ‘take’ on Glinda , one which gave us something of the 1939 film and the old style magic. Grace Craddock was a terrifying Wicked Witch. Emily Marchant,Jake Button, Jack Hartley- Booth, Theo Diedrick, Luke Marchant, Kia Diedrick and Ben Mullan all gave delightful performances of truth and conviction in their various and ,in some cases, multiple roles.
The well integrated and executed choreography allowed the action to develop without seeming like set pieces against a background of smooth set change and effortless continuity that marked out the professional standards of this company.
I have no particular criticisms except those relating to the piece itself where the libretto never stands up to close examination, some heavyweight costumes when ‘less would have been more’ in some cases (although the scarecrow might have benefited from a bit more stuffing!) and the setting of some action out of the audience sight line or in too much gloom with few faces visible. A few of the cast must curb their propensity to laugh or smile in the more serious scenes, but I put this down to the joy of being on stage and that is no bad trait!
Overall, this was a visually stunning, well played and well directed musical which would compare with the best of the youth productions seen nationally.
From a NODA point of view, I cannot fault the hospitality of the front of house team and the courtesy with which we were welcomed.
I loved this show and wish I was the regular NODA reviewer in Bedford! Well done, ShowCo.

Sandra Samwell
East District 1 NODA

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