Tuesday, April 23

The Wizard of Oz – Liverpool Empire

Aston Merrygold as the Tin man and The Vivienne as the Wicked Witch of the West, star in a vibrant and colourful stage adaptation of the classic film. Transferred to the Empire from their stint in London’s West End Jeremy Sams version stays true to the innocence and magic of the original tale. With new songs, written and composed by longstanding musical theatre icons Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, friendship and fantasy were at the forefront.

Full of flair, this production lived up to the expectation of the full crowd. Not only did the A-list names pay homage to their classic roles, they did not over play and stayed true to the production as a whole letting other cast members have their moments of too, of which there were many. Aviva Tulley’s Dorothy was understated but stoic. The Empire being a grand space, she managed to ground herself on stage well in the moments she was alone, but it was with the full cast on stage that she really shone.

Scarecrow (Benjamin Yates), Lion (Nic Greenshields) and Tin Man are charming. Incorporating the classic physicality, voice, and personality as they were in Judy Garland’s 1939 tale, they held and maintained the magic.

Photo: Marc Brenner

Known for the wonders of Oz, in its colour and sparkle, this production had its work cut out and Rachael Canning’s costume designs were just right. Colourful, quirky and detailed, no person on stage was lacking visual quality.

A story full of weather fantasy, tornado’s, flying houses and animals it is pleasantly surprising how this production maintains the surprise. Luckily The Empire has all the technological tools to bring these aspects to the stage and to good effect here, but the fantasy breaks slightly.

Never work with animals is the saying, I think, but Toto is an exception. Abigail Matthews is mesmerising and an asset to the production. Controlling the puppet with utter commitment and attention to detail, the audience falls in love with her from the start.

A big story and a big cast, this production blends a classic story with modern flair. Exciting visually and full of charm, it is a treat for any age and a perfect helping of escapism.

Running at the Empire until Sunday 7th January 2024 it is an ideal ending to any grey and rainy day, plus, it is proving to be very popular so get your tickets quickly. https://www.atgtickets.com/venues/liverpool-empire/

Reviewer: Hannah Esnouf

Reviewed: 15th December 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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