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REVIEW: Still time to Follow the Yellow Brick Road to The Wizard of Oz


By Chris Saunderson

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IT was amazing to see so many happy faces in an almost full Elgin Town Hall enjoying The Wizard of Oz.

Jessica Stuart may have been a cowardly lion but she showed great courage on her Elgin Musical Theatre debut. Picture: Becky Saunderson
Jessica Stuart may have been a cowardly lion but she showed great courage on her Elgin Musical Theatre debut. Picture: Becky Saunderson

Elgin Musical Theatre's (EMT) first performance in two years due to the pandemic has gone down a storm.

The group first staged a Gilbert and Sullivan concert in 1966, and has been a mainstay of the cultural scene since and 2021 was only the second time since then that there has been no production.

The long wait by the cast and crew to get back on stage - following the start of the Covid pandemic in 2020 - ended on Wednesday night when the curtain went up for a four night run plus a Saturday matinee.

Director Callum McLeod has worked with EMT for a number of years and is in the fourth year of a drama and production course at university.

However, this is his directorial debut with EMT and he can be proud of his take on the classic Wizard of Oz, based on the original 1939 film.

Honorary secretary Leigh Robertson, who plays Professor Marvel and The Wizard of Oz, spoke before the opening night about the group "raising the ante" with new backscreen technology, and she wasn't wrong.

The screen has allowed the production to weave some terrific interactive visuals into the fabric of the stage, which really adds to the experience.

The entire cast has had to work around Covid restrictions since rehearsals began online last August and they have brought together a fun and enjoyable two hour entertainment.

Musical director Angus Lawson, choreographer Cliodhna Regan and assistant director Audrey McWilliam should all take a well deserved bow.

The Wizard of Oz was a childhood favourite of mine and was a habitual watch around Christmas time during my formative years.

This EMT production was very enjoyable and has probably inspired me to watch the 1939 film again in the coming days.

The star of the show for me was newcomer Jessica Stuart, who played Zeke and the Cowardly Lion. This was her EMT debut and the biggest compliment I can pay is that you wouldn't have guessed that was the case.

She slipped into the role of the fearful lion perfectly and the audience really warmed to her character.

From left The Scarecrow played by Gregor Lawson, The Tinman played by Garry Collins and Shannon Miller as Dorothy.Picture: Becky Saunderson
From left The Scarecrow played by Gregor Lawson, The Tinman played by Garry Collins and Shannon Miller as Dorothy.Picture: Becky Saunderson

The Tinman Gary Collins put his heart, quite literally, and soul into the role and dovetailed perfectly with the Lion.

There were no failures, it has to be said, and the brainless Gregor Lawson (his character the Scarecrow, not the actor), Dorothy played by Shannon Miller in her first show with EMT, The Wizard Leigh Robertson, Good Witch of the North, Natalie Munro and the Wicked Witch of the West, Charlie Welsh, all put in stellar performances.

Clash of the witches. Charlie Welsh playing Wicked witch of the west squares up to the Good Witch of the North Natalie Munro.Picture: Becky Saunderson
Clash of the witches. Charlie Welsh playing Wicked witch of the west squares up to the Good Witch of the North Natalie Munro.Picture: Becky Saunderson

There are a handful of tickets left for the Saturday matinee, with more available for the closing performance tonight at 7.30pm, so if you haven't followed the yellow brick road yet, click here to book your seat.


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