Created in 2014, Carpe Diem Emmie is a Midlands based Lifestyle, Theatre and Travel blog. Ran by Emmie, a 28 year old woman based in rural Leicestershire.

In the day Emmie works in a primary school where she is passionate about inclusion and mental health. In the evening she escapes to the cultural world.

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REVIEW | Wizard of Oz, Birmingham Rep.

Broad St, Birmingham B1 2EP, UK
Photo Credit: Graeme Braidwood

Wizard of Oz
Birmingham Repertory Theatre 

This year Director Liam Steel is bringing the classic tale of Dorothy Gale and her friends into the 21st Century at Birmingham Rep this Christmas. L.Frank Baum's classic story has been recreated in fun, fresh and spectacular new staging that will enable new and old audiences to enjoy it. The Director noted that as a society we're in a different place to where we were when Wizard of Oz was made as a film so you really won't be disappointed with the more contemporary ideas and how they're intertwined into this new production. 

Chisara Agor plays the strong-willed and fiery Dorothy. Iconically played by Judy Garland, Agor really is quite something in this role. She takes it in her own direction and completely commands Dorothy, even showing the more vulnerable sides to the character superbly. 

Dorothy realises she's not in her home of Kansas anymore and ends up in Oz where she encounters a journey along with a whole host of challenges along the way. Not only does she learn so much about herself but it puts her life into a new found perspective, especially when it comes down to the importance of her home and family. 

Of course, she's not alone in her journey. She is greeted by the spectacular Good Fairy Glinda who is there to send her along the yellow brick road to help her get back to her home in Kansas. Shanay Holmes has incredible vocals and an authentic warmth to the role. The introduction of the munchkins is really quite something too! All of the munchkins are played by puppets that have been intricately designed but radiate an astounding amount of expression. Each munchkin has their own character and they were cleverly introduced through a charming song and dance. 

Photo Credit: Graeme Braidwood
Down the Yellow Brick Road Dorothy and her little dog Toto, which was brought to life by Puppeter Ben Thompson meet new friends along the way who need help from the Wizard of Oz too! Ed Wade really embodies Scarecrow with his acrobatic skills and fluidity, his rendition If I Only Had A Brain was really quite something. Then it's onto Tin Man played by Dillion Scott-Lewis whose embodiment came from the 'lock and pop' of hip hop that was a creative genius. Lastly, we meet the cowardly Lion (Kelly Agbowu). The Lion has an impeccable soulful voice that exposes gorgeous tones. They all collectively bring something bold and big to their roles that is so lovable to the audience watching them. It honestly feels as though you are meeting these cherished characters for the first time. 

Wizard of Oz isn't without the Wicked Witch of the West who is played by Jos Vantyler. The gender-swapped role is something I can get on board with and it works impeccably well, Vantyler really brings the terrifying character to life with every step. Collectively in this production, Birmingham Rep has really executed diverse casting for both gender and race. Liam Steel's production reflects the society we live in today and will inspire a younger generation when they sit in that audience. Anything is achievable in the theatre and Birmingham Rep has done that with their production of an old story that feels brand new this Christmas. 

Photo Credit: Graeme Braidwood
Photo Credit: Graeme Braidwood
The musical and setting design definitely brings together the pure balance between the songs and scenes we know with things that feel very new. The funky take on The Merry Old Land of Oz was fascinating and the choreography that aligned that was well executed. The stage at Birmingham Rep is quite something and the ensemble really helped to bring the vast space to life throughout.
If it's great quality theatre you're after this Christmas then this cunning production of The Wizard of Oz is the ticket. It's bursting at the wings with heart and innovation. Fantastic job Birmingham Rep!
Wizard of Oz is performing at Birmingham Repertory Theatre until 13 January 2019. You can find out more and book your tickets here.


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