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Wizard of Oz , CO2 – Mercury Theatre, Colchester

When you think of Wizard of Oz you often think of Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley and Bert Lahr. So, these are big shoes for the young cast of CO2 to fil.

But they did!  Tonight I saw Isabelle Robinson as one of the alternate Dorothy’s and Wow how well did she fill Judy’s shoes. She has amazing vocals and such a strong stage presence. She coped with Toto, played by Meerla without any concerns and still gave us a complete performance.  It’s often said dealing with ‘kids and animals’ on stage is a fools errand but this show certainly challenged that premise.

Fortunately, she was matched with a superb team of principals with Corey Moore as Scarecrow, Josh Tarrier as Tinman and Alex Terry as Lion.

Corey was flexible, dependable and incredible to watch throughout the show and Josh as Tinman stayed in character throughout especially with his walk and personality. Both young men were a delight to watch and I am convinced they are both big stars of the future.
Alex did a great job as the Lion but I did feel he could have taken the character of Lion a little further, making him a little larger than life, especially as he has some of the best lines in the show, which were on occasion under delivered.

Loran Perrin was delightful as Glinda and really sang well and both Bethany Adamson as Aunt Em and Jake Daniels and Uncle Henry gave strong performance as these older characters, who are sometimes difficult for youngsters to deliver but both Bethany and Jake were solid in their characters and very believable.

Sophie Twohey as Miss Gulch/Witch of the West had huge potential but somehow her character never really seemed to quite hit the mark. Sadly, a lot of the dialogue was shouted with bad diction which meant it was often difficult to hear her and understand what she was saying.

The lighting was magnificent and the effects it added were a great addition to the whole along with some superb props – which are often over looked.  The saddest part of the evening for me and apparently the audience sitting around us was the long black out/scene changes. I understand the technical challenges in big shows like this, but it felt like they were waiting for the orchestral interludes to finish before taking the lights up rather than keeping the action moving. The orchestra under the baton of Geoff Osbourne was spot on and Adam Woodhouse, the Director did a great job with this often-dated show.

I have to say, however – there was an undoubted star of the show tonight and that was Meerla, the 3 year old Cairn Terrier playing Toto.  Her biography in the programme describes her as a Diva – and as delightful as she was – she was a complete Diva and seemed to know exactly how to steal the limelight and have the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. What a star!

Huge congratulations on CO2 on delivering another fresh and vibrant show.
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