Thursday, 17 August 2017

Novice hound is wizard casting as Dorothy's faithful friend Toto

Novice hound is wizard casting as Dorothy's faithful friend Toto

The Wizard of Oz press preview | Grange United Reformed Church, Southcote | Wednesday, April 26

THERE’S an old showbiz adage that says: “Never work with children or animals.”

Sound advice, to be sure — but the Sainsbury Singers are doing both with their forthcoming production of The Wizard of Oz.

The show will be playing at the Hexagon in Reading from Wednesday, May 17, to Saturday, May 20.

The children, directed by Wendy Carne, are members of the company’s junior group, Kidz Alive! — who sing and dance their hearts out as a most endearing troupe of Munchkins.

In contrast, four-year-old cockapoo Peppa is a complete theatre novice owned by a member of the company, but nevertheless perfectly cast as Dorothy’s pet Toto, and who effectively stole the show at the press preview.

This production, which is based on L Frank Baum’s classic book, promises to be a great family favourite.

It has all the familiar songs from the original 1939 film, such as Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Follow the Yellow Brick Road, and the well-loved characters the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion who set out together with Dorothy to find the Wizard of Oz.

Yet at the press preview it was revealed that director Matthew Smith has introduced a “steampunk-inspired twist” into the classic tale. To find out just what that is, you will have to see the show.

The Sainsbury Singers have a long-standing reputation in Reading as striving to attain near-professional standards with their productions — and The Wizard of Oz is shaping up to live up to that reputation with some really lovely voices in the main roles.

The chorus has clearly been well drilled by musical director Jon Brooks, and their enthusiasm for the tunes is infectious.

To add to the fun, you are invited to come along in a Wizard of Oz-inspired costume to either performance on Saturday, May 20 — when the 2pm matinée will be followed by an evening performance at 6.30pm. There will also be a children’s “Oz Raffle” to include Wizard of Oz books and DVDs.

The performances on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all start at 7.30pm.

To book, call 0118 960 6060 or visit www.readingarts.com/
hexagon (a booking fee applies). Alternatively, call the Sainsbury Singers’ box office on 0118 988 2510 — or for more information visit www.sainsburysingers.org.uk

Review: Mary Scriven

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