Somewhere over the rainbow lies a musical theatre heaven called Harvest Rain. It’s a magical place where the talented youth of Brisbane go to be nurtured for a life on the stage. Oh to be a Harvest Raindrop in their latest production of The Wizard of Oz – a timeless classic we all know and loved as children.
Harvest Rain never ceases to impress me but they have truly outdone themselves with this magnificent show. The great creative team work needed to successfully stage such a large scale show is awe-inspiring. Honestly I don’t know where company director Tim O’Conner (Mr Harvest Rain himself), gets the energy to keep producing such high quality shows while looking after all those munchkin’s various training programs.
The pitch-perfect cast lineup included new comer Dana Musil as Dorothy. At just seventeen and in her second year as a Harvest Rain intern, Dana has the musical world at her feet. Not only did she look perfect as Dorothy, but the real surprise came when she opened her mouth to speak. I was not expecting an eerily uncanny replica of Judy Garland’s voice. So sweet and earnest, Dana was made to play this role. Her singing voice was just beautiful to listen to, including the signature Judy Garland slide in that most famous and enchanting song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. How she handled Toto the dog was clever. I won’t spoil that surprise, but it did remind me of a dog in another magical musical currently in town.
The other leads were equally as charming; Shaun Kohlman as the Scarecrow, Dan Venz as the Tinman, and Matty Johston as the Lion. Shaun’s lanky light-hearted demenour suited the Scarecrow and was a delight to watch. I was pleasantly surprised to see a tap-dancing Tinman. Dan Venz’s incredibly ‘slick’ dancing brought another layer to the character and his vocal and physical characterisation was charming. Matty Johnston was just endearing as the cowardly Lion. You could see the underlying power of Matty as an actor/singer and his vocal agility was masterfully used to great comic effect.
Penny Farrow was just perfect in her role as the wickedly scary cackling witch, but what showed her mastery of the craft was the ability to inject humour into such an evil role.
Angela Harding was a lovely Glinda and of course Steven Tandy was just a delight as The Wizard. With such talented and perfectly cast performers, it’s hard to write a good review without being repitious. I mean, how many ways can you say it was perfect?!
A lovely surprise was the 24 or so children’s ensemble (which was double-cast), who were just adorable as the munchkins. They brought such joy and colour to the piece and did such a fabulous job. I should also mention the talented main ensemble, who played the energetic Oz town-folk, the Winkies, Poppies, and of course the very effective irridescent jitterbugs.
The orchestra under the direction of Maitlohn Drew was faultless, and how could I forget the massive line-up of visually stunning sets – just incredible work done by Josh McIntosh and his team. Josh also designed the wonderful costumes – my favourites would have to be the Tinman and the munchkins. Is there no end to this man’s talent?
Jason Glenwright’s lighting design was a great collaboration with the set design. Jason’s work was certainly cut out for him with tornados, creepy forests, manifestations of an honourous but invisible wizard, and my favourite, the yellow brick road. A lighting designer’s dream … and nightmare!
Overall, a true delight and a must see for the family, however the show does come with a warning to parents that there will be witches and torandos and such, so parental discretion is advised.
The Wizard of Oz by Harvest Rain is a high quality, big production spectacular, with a lot of heart, courage, and brains.