The Wizard of Oz
Blackpool Opera House until 30th December

Never mind the rainbow, if you’re off to see the Wizar of Oz at Blackpool Opera House this Christmas you’ll soon be over the moon.

Rave reviews have been pouring in for Selladoor Worldwide’s festive musical offering and I’d like to add mine to the collection because this is a show you must not miss.

Adapted from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s stage version, this magical show combines a superb cast with spectacular set design.
The costumes are so authentic the fantasy characters are just as real as the country bumpkins they’re based on, and the make-up brings to life the familiar faces we all know and love from the original movie perfectly.

With one of the largest stages in Europe, Blackpool Opera House offers a pretty decent plot for the Texas farmland where Dorothy and Toto’s story begins, and for the imaginary world the tornado transports them to.

X Factor’s Holly Tandy is around the same age Judy Garland was when she played Dorothy, and despite the American legend being a hard act to follow, Holly steps confidently into her ruby slippers.

Thoroughly believable as the naïve but feisty young girl who discovers that her heart really does belong in deep, not-as-dull-as-she-thought Texas, she joins a crew of equally fantastic actors and keeps us enthralled throughout. Anyone who saw her on X Factor will already know how well she can sing, but this performance shows she has acting skills to match, and her accent is so good there isn’t even the slightest trace of Yorkshire.

Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher is a surprise as the Tin Man. He starts off true to type as a farmhand, but his transformation into the awkward character with a rusty gait and heart is clever and endearing. Scott Gallagher bounces in with his usual larger than life presence but mixed with the required timidity to create the Cowardly Lion.

But the best act for me came from Kieran McGinn as Scarecrow. His movements are gawky yet fluid, and, just as he described prior to the show, reminiscent of a deer learning to walk. He spins and falls as if he really is made of straw with no joints. He’s so likeable as the simple Scarecrow who’s searching for a brain I actually felt a bit distressed when bits of him got scattered across the stage.

The Wizard himself and the witches are all strong in their roles, the crows and trees are spookily good, the munchkins delightful as intended, and Toto proves a scene stealer right from the start, with someone behind me exclaiming “Ah it’s actually a real dog!”

Last but not least, this show has some impressive sound and light effects. Flashing arcs of white herald the arrival of the tornado, beams of light
create the yellow brick road, and there are plenty of noises designed to make you jump out of your seat.

This is one show that’s worth travelling to see even if you're not a local - but if you do live in Blackpool get your tickets booked here and find out why there’s no place like home.

Photographs courtesy
of Mark Dawson