When I was a little girl I knew Christmas was on its way because of numerous events that happened in our house-hold.
For starters mum pouring herself a large Bailey’s, popping on a Christmas CD while excitedly putting up and decorating the tree was a definite giveaway. Red and gold, always red and gold.
My grandad coming to stay with us for a few nights signalled Santa wasn’t far away at all. I loved my Grandad staying. He let us drink sherry [ a tiny glass] and stay up late.
Dad would always plump for a massive turkey [ I swear it was bigger than my head] which Mum always cooked on Christmas Eve. They were an extremely sociable ‘Mum and dad’ who had friends & neighbours back after the pub for turkey sandwiches, more drink and frivolity.
Grandad smoked a pipe.
The combined smell that wafted around the house during that time was Christmas.
Turkey and tobacco.
It lingered on everything. It was comforting, familiar. It was Christmas. I wish I could have bottled it up.
When the bumper Christmas edition Radio Times eventually got delivered Mark [my brother ] and I would fight over, then flick through it excitedly ear-marking programmes we wanted to watch.
Mark was the blue marker, I was usually pink.
Along with ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ and ‘Spartacus’… ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was always highlighted in both blue and pink as one of the must watch films, something we agreed on for once!Mum, Mark and I would ensure we were ready for start time. We would huddle up on the settee armed with supplies of sweets, crisps and drinks. An afternoon of pure escapism with Dorothy, Tin man , Scarecrow and Lion on the cards.
Mark never managed to stay on the settee for long, he was a bloody fidget and tended to dance around with his elastic legs, usually ending up sprawled on the floor. Here he could fidget around to his heart’s content and not annoy Mum and I.
It was always magical. Magical family time were magical memories were set in stone .
You can imagine my delight then when I was asked along to attend the press evening of The Wizard of Oz which is playing at The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield until January 20th 2018.
During the previous week I had also been invited along for a behind the scenes tour of the show . This involved a visit to the wardrobe department. We met and chatted to some of the cast and had the privilege to sit in ‘Technical Rehearsals’ for half an hour. We even got to briefly meet the Director Robert Hastie.
Yes I have to pinch myself sometimes.
So last Wednesday evening myself and My friend Karen made our way excitedly through rainy Sheffield to The Crucible Theatre.
I love the theatre, there’s always an electric atmosphere. People buzzing in anticipation of what they are about to witness.
I remembered my glasses [a first – yay] we found our seats which had a great view of the stage and made ourselves comfy. The best thing about The Crucible is that there aren’t really any bad seats due to the circular layout.
So as for the show itself… what can I say it’s bloody fabulous.
My everyday job as you can most likely tell is not a theatre reviewer . I’m just a lady sat in the stalls, passionate about the stage; the feelings and memories it can evoke. The one wishing she was up there herself. Lack of any real talent, terribly shy and a voice that only attracts cats put pay to that!
I’m the frustrated performer who sings in her car and occasionally shares it on Instagram.
So back to the Wizard of Oz…
The set consists of a circular disc which lights up from underneath to mark out the yellow brick road.
A second disc raises out of the first and creates the backdrop to the Emerald City.
It’s all very clever. It looks magnificent.
The acting by the whole cast is top-notch .
Dorothy [ Gabrielle Brooks] singing ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow.’ had me in tears. She has the voice of an angel and it was a very heart-felt performance. It was also the song we lay Mum to rest too earlier this year , so as you can expect I was a big blubbering mess.
You forget for a while that Tin man [ Max Parker] , Lion [ Jonathan Broadbent ] and Scarecrow [ Andrew Langtree ] are actual real human beings . I know that sounds daft , but that’s the power of the stage.
I am still in awe of Tin mans moves. The way he jutted around the stage, the way you’d expect too if you were made from tin and had just been oiled.
Lion reminded me of a character from Bo Selecta , with his big Afro mane , large wobbly back side and the tail you just wanted to pull.
Scarecrows confused facial expressions and vulnerability were endearing, you wanted to run on stage and give him a big hug.
Like Dorothy herself said “Scarecrow I think I’ll Miss you the most, I think your my favourite” I nodded along in agreement.
Toto is played in part by a real dog in the Kansas scenes and for their stint in Oz a puppet, fabulously operated by Rhiannon Wallace… who you kind of get used to being there and don’t see after a while. Or rather you do but she blends into the background.
There’s the Wicked Witch of the West [Catrin Aaron] … with an amazing evil laugh
and Glinda the Good [Sophia Nomvete ] the munchkins and Oz himself.
Like I said earlier for me the theatre is truly magical. It’s a place to go and escape everyday life for a couple of hours. To reflect and maybe make new memories.
There are all the main scenes you’d expect from the 1939 film including flying monkeys on roller skates [ genius] and some extra bits that weren’t featured in the original film. I’m talking about the Jitterbug scene which is a festival to the eyes and one of the highlights of the show. I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to spoil it for you… you’ll just have to go and see for yourself.
The Wizard of Oz is my childhood, it holds special memories of special people who are no longer with us… it made me laugh and cry in equal measure.
Karen and I hopped around in our seats and happily sang along to “we’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz ” a tune that you don’t hear often but somehow you never seem to forget.
It’s an amazing performance, one I urge you to go and see if you get the chance. I can assure you it’s everything and more.
All that was missing was the smell of turkey and tobacco…
* TICKETS CAN BE PURCHASED FROM THE BOX OFFICE – please call 0114 2496000
* All photographs are provided courtesy of The Crucible Theatre and have been used with their permission. Thank you for inviting me.