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The Wizard Of Oz (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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It seems that the classic Wizard Of Oz has definitely got lost somewhere down the yellow brick road in New World Productions latest Easter Tour.

Admittedly, the tacky poster and advertisting should be enough to give it away, but if you are going as a purist fan to this production, then you are going to be spending half your time wishing for a pair of ruby slippers to transport you safely back home.

Take it for what it is and you will probably find yourself entertained. There’s definitely a ‘panto feel’ to the show that is engaging for children, but it lacks the Christmas sparkle that makes it magical for adults too.

This is a story set in Kansas and the wonderful world of Oz, and yet somehow we are presented with a Worzel Gummidge Scarecrow (impressionist Bobby Davro), a Welsh Tin Man (Tracy Beaker star, Ben Hanson) and a ridiculously squeaky and whiney Glinda (CBeebies presenter Sarah Jane Honeywell).

And if that eclectic mix isn’t enough then it goes further in the production’s perplexing and embarrassing mix of songs - where else would you hear a Glee style mash-up of "I’ve Got A Feeling" and "Cotton Eyed Joe?" I think that says it all...

Nonetheless, even amongst amateur choreography, an unperfected lighting rig and cheap-looking costumes and set, there is one star that manages to shine. Over The Rainbow semi-finalist Stephanie Fearon (Dorothy) makes the best out of a bad situation, being one of the only performers to maintain believability in her role.

Luckily Fearon (and the impressive live band) are enough to save the Lowry from a tornado, but for any die-hard Garland fans out there, it is safe to say the Salford venue  has definitely been caught in a disaster.

- Rebecca Cohen


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