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Review: The Co-op Juniors Theatre Company In the Land of Oz Christmas Spectacular, Snape Maltings, December 1-10

PUBLISHED: 00:48 30 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:27 30 November 2017

In the Land of Oz, this year's Christmas Spectacular by The Co-op Juniors Theatre Company. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

In the Land of Oz, this year's Christmas Spectacular by The Co-op Juniors Theatre Company. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

www.mikekwasniak.co.uk

The cast’s family and friends are guaranteed bums on seats; but it’s still a big venue to fill. So is the show worth seeing if you’re neither?

Colourful moment from the In the Land of Oz. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKColourful moment from the In the Land of Oz. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

I think so. The script is solid; a simple story of how friendship conquers all. The Wizard is long gone, leaving the different corners of Oz under the stewardship of the Scarecrow, Lion and Tinman.

There’s no Wicked Witch of the East, crushed by Dorothy Gale’s house during her first visit to Oz, but the Wicked Witch of the West is back. Out for revenge, she steals the jewel containing the spirit of Christmas from the Emerald City and Dorothy is summoned from Kansas to help get it back.

It feels like a L Frank Baum story and the festive elements don’t feel contrived; although the finale feels more like a concert. Not a bad thing when the performances are so good.

The set is simple but striking, backed by a video wall that transports you all over Oz and allows the company to employ some magical effects. It’s used cleverly, rather than a gimmick or storytelling shortcut. There are some fun practical sleights of hand too, which I won’t spoil.

It's a great family show for the festive season. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKIt's a great family show for the festive season. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Both are complemented by the lighting and sound design, some wonderful costumes and the 13-piece orchestra. The musical numbers are choreographed well and benefit from the scale of the world-famous concert hall’s stage.

Principal actors Thomas Haigh as the Scarecrow, Haydn Ingram as the Tinman, Chris Evans as the Lion, Lizzie Tyte as the Wicked Witch of the West, Amanda Langley as the Good Witch of the North and Louise Yule as the Good Witch of the South are great fun. It’s Courtney Yule as Dorothy who impresses the most, attacking the role with gusto.

I watched the dress rehearsal, so obviously there was still some tightening up here and there. There was no real audience either, just me and a handful of company members. It was an energetic run-through but having a packed auditorium to play to will pay dividends for the cast.

A fun fuelled festive treat that’s sure to melt your heart, even that of a wicked witch no water required.

The Co-op Juniors Theatre Company putting o a show at Snape Maltings. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKThe Co-op Juniors Theatre Company putting o a show at Snape Maltings. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

The Lion and dancers. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKThe Lion and dancers. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

In The Land of Oz is dazzling on the eye. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKIn The Land of Oz is dazzling on the eye. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Dancers taking part in the Co-op Juniors' In The Land of Oz. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKDancers taking part in the Co-op Juniors' In The Land of Oz. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

A traditional showstopper from In The Land of Oz. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKA traditional showstopper from In The Land of Oz. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

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