Well ,courtesy of the fact we share an agent with Michael Crawford, we were able to buy what are called 'house seats, places that are reserved for friends of cast and crew. Positioned towards the front - and in the middle of the stage - our view couldn't have been any better!
Expectations high, the curtain rose and, from that moment, we were utterly gripped. First thing that took our breath away was the stage design (by the hand of our old pal Robert) which was assembled via wonderul cloths, clever projections and the most amazing lighting. It truly was magnificent. The scene set for Dorothy's beloved Kansas, the story opened with our subject's dissapearance and then shortly her delivery to Oz via the hurricane. Mesmerising to the max we were blown away by the assembled atmosphere and it just got better and better.
Courtesy of the whirlwind, Dorothy's house flew through the sky before landing on the evil witch and at that point Oz, in all its colourful splendour, was revealed. Cue Munchkins, The Lion, The Tin Man and The Scarecrow, all well played by a confidant cast. Toto, Dorothy's little dog, was effortless, in his portrayal of her loyal companion and, controleled by biscuits (!) he captured every heart in the theatre.
When Michael appeared as The Proffessor, then subsequently as a castle guard and then finally as the Wizard himself it was clear why his star has endured for so long. At times he borrowed from his own back catalogue (especially Frank Spencer) and the audience and we were transfixed. Even with advancing years his stage prescence and vocal talent were without dispute.
Glinda, The Good Witch and her evil wicked sister were staggeringly convincing and we rememeber in particular a gorgeous wee girl sitting behind us who was so lost in the story that she cried, laughed and shrieked at every turn. Convincing adults of ones character is one thing but making the magic believable for a child is another. Both witches had magic sufficient to satisfy both generations.
The score, by Sir Webber, was simple but captivating, the mood electric and the entire journey from Kansas to Oz and then back to Kansas a complete delight. And a beautiful reminder of the fact that sometimes, just sometimes, that which we already have is better by far than our dreams. However vivid they might be...
It's easy in this day and age of such brilliant theatrical 'choice' to overlook a beautiful piece of entertainmnet like this but we advise going to see Oz as soon as you can as a matter of criticaal urgency. We're certainly be paying it a second visit.
Colin and Justin xx