REVIEW: The Wizard of Oz – Theatre Royal – Nottingham


The Wizard of Oz at Nottingham Theatre Royal is a production that teeters between moments of enchantment and lapses in directorial and musical coherence, ultimately delivering an enjoyable but inconsistent theatrical experience. As the curtains rise, the audience is whisked away to the fantastical world of Oz, guided by a cast that breathes new life into iconic characters.

The standout performances of the evening undoubtedly belong to the Cowardly Lion, Glinda, and the Scarecrow. Nic Greenshields’s portrayal of the Cowardly Lion is a masterclass in endearing characterisation, complete with layers of performance that showcase both vulnerability and strength. His command of the stage is palpable, matched only by his impressive vocal ability that adds depth to every song and scene.

Emily Bull’s rendition of Glinda is nothing short of magical. Her soaring vocals effortlessly capture the essence of the good witch, while her seamless transformation into Auntie Em adds depth to her characterisation. Bull’s performance is a testament to her versatility as a performer, commanding the stage with grace and charm.

Benjamin Yates’s portrayal of the Scarecrow injects a much-needed dose of comedy into the production. His polished delivery and impeccable timing make him a standout amongst the cast of characters, eliciting laughs and applause from the audience with every witty quip and physical gag.

Of course, no production of The Wizard of Oz would be complete without a formidable Wicked Witch, and The Vivienne rises to the occasion with a menacing portrayal that pays homage to the beloved performance by Margaret Hamilton. Her commanding presence fills the stage with an aura of dread, making her every appearance a highlight of the evening.

As for our titular heroine, Aviva Tulley’s Dorothy is a truly believable portrayal of a naive young girl thrust into a world beyond her wildest dreams. Tulley’s vocal ability is on full display as she tackles the iconic songs with gusto, infusing each note with emotion and sincerity.

The costume design, spearheaded by Rachael Canning, presents a refreshing reinterpretation of the classic Ozian attire. Each costume is a visual feast for the eyes, blending elements of retro-futurism with nods to the original designs. However, while the main characters are impeccably dressed, some secondary elements, such as the monkeys, could benefit from further development.

The lighting design by Ben Cracknell is a triumph, adding depth and spectacle to the world of Oz with its clever use of color and shadow. Likewise, Douglas O’Connell’s projection design enhances the overall visual experience, expanding the world of Oz with stunning video sequences that transport the audience to new and exciting locations.

Despite these triumphs, The Wizard of Oz is not without its flaws. The show suffers from a lack of clear vision, resulting in a disjointed mix of imagery and eras that fails to coalesce into a cohesive whole. The pacing feels uneven, with the first act stretched out to the point of sluggishness and the second act rushed to a somewhat abrupt conclusion.

Moreover, the overreliance on projection for world-building is disappointing, as it prevents the world of Oz from feeling as magical as it should. The original songs, while competently performed, lack any real character, resulting in a disconnect that hampers the musical’s overall cohesion.

In conclusion, The Wizard of Oz at Nottingham Theatre Royal is a production that offers moments of enchantment amidst its shortcomings. With standout performances, imaginative design elements, and a timeless story, it’s a journey down the yellow brick road that’s both familiar and fresh. While it may not reach the heights of its cinematic counterpart, it still manages to captivate and entertain, making it a worthwhile experience for fans of the classic tale.

The Wizard of Oz plays at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 13th April when it continues its UK tour ahead of a run in the West End this summer.

Photography throughout from Marc Brenner.






One response to “REVIEW: The Wizard of Oz – Theatre Royal – Nottingham”

  1. Donna Bridgwood avatar
    Donna Bridgwood

    Congratulations, Emily ! You can go as far as you want to and I‘m sure you will reach the very top of your profession. I am only sorry that I couldn’t hear your beautiful voice, as I live in France.
    Again very well done .Best wishes for your future success.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *