The Wizard of Oz, Harleston

Children and adults alike were spellbound by the magic of this timeless tale, superbly presented by the talented Harleston Players, who are always at the forefront of amateur groups in Norfolk.

Children and adults alike were spellbound by the magic of this timeless tale, superbly presented by the talented Harleston Players, who are always at the forefront of amateur groups in Norfolk.

Director Christine Harvey was wise to stick to the original story without trying to ape the film version, although all the favourite toe-tapping songs were included, well arranged and choreographed by musical director Joyce Blane, whose flawless accompaniment on the keyboard was a crucial part of the show.

Again, a wide range of age and experience blended well with Athena Otho-Briggs making a very successful debut in the star role of Dorothy, also displaying a tuneful voice – especially in Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

There were no weak links among the cast with strong performances from all the leading characters, especially Emma Matthews as the agile Scarecrow, searching for a brain; Stephen Matthews in a striking costume and make-up as the Tin-Man, desperate for a heart; and Mike Davison as the timid Lion seeking for courage. The experience of Lawrie Hammond added greatly to the role of the Wizard, doubling as Professor Marvel, while Cherryl Jeffries was outstanding, both as Miss Gultch and the Wicked Witch of the West.

A large number of children performed as the Munchkins, the Winkies, townspeople, apes and crows – all working well with confidence and enthusiasm.

The simple but effective sets were quickly transformed by the clever use of dancing and strobe lighting.

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Full marks to all the backstage helpers for the sound and lighting, magnificent costumes and make-up, all contributing to a most professional production.

t The play continues on from Thursday January 31 to Saturday February 2, at 7.30 with a matinee on Saturday.

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