MUSICAL THEATRE – An ‘uplifting’ and ‘feel-good’ trip down the yellow-brick-road

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[star rating = 4/5]

I was really looking forward to going to watch this show, and I was not disappointed. This is Tribe Porty Youth Theatre’s eighth season at the Festival Fringe. Based in Portobello, kids from 5 to 18yrs learn many aspects of Theatre work such as acting, singing, dancing, making props and a lot more. The group was founded by LARAH BROSS, a comedy artiste originally from Montreal. SHAUNA MAcDONALD, a scottish actress known for her roles in TV spy drama Spooks and the movies The Descent and Filth co-directs the group.

The Wizard of Oz, is a well loved children’s classic. The film and the musical are based on a book written in 1900 by L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was first performed as a stage musical in Chicago in 1902 and on Broadway in 1903. The lyrics by L.Frank Baum himself. The very first film version was made as early as 1910. By the time the 1939 film with Judy Garland burst onto the scene in full technicolour, music had been rewritten, some scenes and characters dropped and it was now shortened to The Wizard of Oz. However the ethos and morals of the story. The triumph of good over evil and the value of having faith still remains.

LARAH BROSS has effected a polished and natural performance from these enthusiastic and talented children. She has transported this well known children’s musical into present day and fits the story into a delightful hour. The beauty of this musical is that it appeals to both the old and the young. There were adults singing along and the under fives were transfixed. One of the younger audience members insisted on growling every time the cowardly lion came on.

The singing was accompanied by JAMES GILHOOLEY, the solo instrumentalist on the piano which really allows the kids voices to be heard.

The leading lady ROBYN HILL was a perfect choice for Dorothy. She tackled the role with gusto and had a very expressive face and strong acting skills. Her solo Somewhere over the Rainbow was sung in a sweet clear voice, a bit shaky at beginning but she recovered quickly.

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She was admirably supported by her three companions. LILY MEYERS as the Scarecrow, HUGH HARRIS as the Tin Man and DARCY ROBERTSON as the Lion. All three played their parts with confident ease. Lily was convincingly floppy and Hugh looked and moved as a tin man would. Young Darcy as the cowardly lion played the part with good comedy timing.

AMY FYVIE as the Wicked Witch of the West gives a suitably scary performance, in contrast to Lily Middleton’s kind, serene portrayal of The Good Witch. And of course there is The Great Oz, not seen, but only heard, until the very end. Played by OSCAR BICKMORE, his voice loud and terrifying, makes it all the more surprising when he appears from behind the green curtain as a small ordinary boy.

The supporting cast were all well rehearsed. The group singing especially. It was a well presented show. Simple costumes, props and lighting allowing the children to shine.

Something that must be noted is that most of the props and some costumes were made by T.P.Y.T. themselves. I would however like to have seen more use of make up for dramatic effect. The bad witch could have benefitted from a bit of scary makeup and dirty back combed hair to enhanced her very evil performance. Likewise, the Scarecrow and the cowardly lion.

This show runs until Saturday. So if you have kids or are a big kid yourself then this is a show to see.