We were pleased we followed our own yellow brick road of Christmas Lights and visited the redeveloped Leeds Playhouse which lit up a dark gloomy night with its new colourful city facing entrance, complete with a festive treat of a show inside.
“There’s no place like home”
It’s apt that the new base is housing a new Christmas production this year of The Wizard of Oz.
The theatre feels spacious, modern and accessible with state-of-the-art facilities yet all still with that community friendly feel that Leeds Playhouse does so well.
The audience alone proves what great work the theatre does at reaching people near and far. And this production is professional yet inviting.
We’re immediately transported into this magical show with a strong confident Dorothy (Lucy Sherman and Agatha Meehan) and audience favourite Toto the dog easing us into this classic story.
What I love about a lot of productions at Leeds Playhouse is the fact that they have a community ensemble of local people. But not only that the show is seamless and it’s hard to tell the professionals from the new talent as we are taken on this magical journey.
All the cast are strong and nicely choreographed with comical touches which pleases all ages.
The stand out actor for me is the Lion (Marcus Ayton) who punches the right note with his own take on the character. He is closely followed by the Wicked Witch of the West (Polly Lister) who is equally as flamboyant in her own way.
Whilst the auditorium inside Leeds Playhouse feels large, the cast cut through the vastness by utilising the whole space - as they travel through the audience and make use of the impressive set. It’s gives an initimate feel to a professional production.
For me, seeing the parents and carers wait for their loved ones who performed in the show was the icing on the cake showing how this theatre has yet again opened up its stages and made us all feel at home in the often distant world of theatrical productions.
As the show is long (2hours 50 minutes) I’d say it’s mostly suitable for older children and grown ups. Otherwise it’s the perfect family festive treat for the whole family.
The official lowdown
The Wizard of Oz, the spectacular family musical, is now open at Leeds Playhouse for Christmas 2019.
Production images revealed today show the magical land of Oz, where audiences are beingwhisked away on a whirlwind adventure down the yellow brick road, through the poppy fields and into the Emerald City.
New friends Scarecrow (Eleanor Sutton), Lion (Marcus Ayton) and Tin Man (Sam Harrison) join fearless Dorothy (Lucy Sherman and Agatha Meehan) and her faithful dog Toto on their magical adventures. Along the way, they meet the Munchkins of Munchkinland, played by young people from the Leeds City Region, and escape the clutches of the vengeful Wicked Witch of the West (Polly Lister) as they traverse the yellow brick road to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz (Graham Hoadly).
The Wizard of Oz, directed by Leeds Playhouse’s Artistic Director James Brining, is playing in Leeds Playhouse’s Quarry Theatre, which has reopened in time for Christmas following the building’s dramatic £15.8m redevelopment.
Audiences now enjoy improved access into and around the building, comfortable contemporary seating in the Quarry, new hospitality areas and a dramatic new city-facing entrance opposite Leeds City Bus Station.
As part of its first season of Christmas celebrations in its new look home, Leeds Playhouse is hosting a sensational sing-along performance of The Wizard of Oz on Friday 13 December, inviting audiences to dress up, sing loudly (and proudly) and join in the fabulous festive fun.
The Wizard of Oz, Leeds Playhouse’s Quarry Theatre
20 November 2019 – 25 January 2020. Press Night Tue 26 November 2019, 7pm
Box office 0113 213 7700. Book online leedsplayhouse.org.uk
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