THE WIZARD OF OZ
PADOS Junior Theatre Group - Groups 1 & 2
Director / Mentor Jack Martin
Musical Director Helen Wilkinson / music supplied by backing tracks
Choreographer Jess McEvoy
The young performer’s edition of the iconic musical “The Wizard of Oz” has been creatively adapted. The material enables the young students to present the best possible performance. Running for just over an hour it must have been an exciting and rewarding experience for them as there is storytelling, singing and dancing, and a whole raft of performing skills to be displayed.
This was all played out against a workable set using swiped picturesque cloths for the famous journey down the yellow brick road. All the characters were dressed well and their make-up completed their colourful characters. The lighting added atmosphere, although the sound was a little inconsistent and Group 2, at times, was not heard. This was possibly due to having the speakers at the front, and not behind the performers.
Through their rehearsal sessions, turning the groups into working teams was evident in performance. As the performers were supporting each other, their performances enhanced the character development. Both groups displayed equal abilities. The stage discipline was notable as there was no any migration from set positions, and no fidgeting. They came across very focused; the picking up of cues was also very good.
It is so difficult to act out lines to make them interesting for an audience but here the storytelling, from both groups, was strong. It was interesting in the opening scene Groups 1 and 2 slightly rushed their dialogue. Maybe “Pace” could be something to approach in their next training sessions. However, things soon settled down and the narrative continued unhindered.
On top of all the dramatic aspect of stage work they had to sing and dance as well as concentrating on movement. The musical training enabled the soloists to deliver entertaining solos and company numbers. The choreography and movement tested their coordination. From the youngest upwards the energy and enthusiasm carried the dance sets. The Jitter-Bug dance was a particular highlight in both presentations.
The Wicked Witch is desperate to have Dorothy’s ruby slippers and sends an array of characters to get them. These supporting roles in both groups were well conceived. For this version, when in OZ, Toto was acted out as a “Skin” role without dialogue - just the odd bark. This was carried out with effect from the two Toto’s.
Dorothy and her friends Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man in groups 1 and 2 were well drawn characters, were believable and carried the story. Everyone in both productions should be proud of their achievements.
The creative team brought out the best in the students. Tt was clear performers had learnt a lot. There is always room for improvement and as they gain experience with the training they are receiving these young thespians will be ready to move up into the adult section.