Review: Big Bad Wolf Theatre Company’s The Wiz at Falkirk Town Hall

Guess who we’re off to see at Falkirk Town Hall this week? No, not the wizard... The Wiz, in Big Bad Wolf Theatre Company’s funky, soulful adaptation of the classic tale that has more sparkle than Dorothy’s famous shoes.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 9:54 am
Picture: Michael Gillen

In this version, however, it’s ruby sneakers rather than slippers and while the tunes may not be well-known enough to have you singing along they will definitely have you boogieing in your seat.

The scene is set — complete with Toto the dog — in the cornfields of Kansas, of course, when Aunt Em, beautifully sung byDaisy Campbell, who shares the role with Erin MacInnes, tells Dorothy how much she is loved.

But there’s a twister on its way — dramatically and beautifully danced in a ballet — to whip Dorothy away from her family to a strange land.

Picture: Michael Gillen

And what an amazing place it is — with a huge cast of youngsters ready to entertain.

The big number that introduces us to Oz is led by the very entertaining Addaperle (Ella Dowell) with some great attitude from those cheeky Munchkins.

It is just fabulous and as the show goes on you’ll find it’s one of many huge song and dance numbers.

Every single person on that stage gives their all — dancing with massive energy, singing their hearts out and telling the story with joy and infectious enthusiasm.

Leading them all is Jessica Riddoch who is a brilliant Dorothy — a really strong singer and a great dancer who manages to be the right combination of sweet and brave in the famous pinafore.

And she has some very able company with Freddie Bang as the endearing scarecrow who may not be able to stand up straight very well but gets loads of laughs as he searches for his brain.

Robbie Allan as the Tinman shows that while his arms and legs may be metal, his lungs are fully functioning as he belted out some amazing tunes.

And that ol’ scaredy-cat Lion, played by Euan Arthur, also got some big laughs as he chased the ‘ladeez’ while he searched for some courage.

The journey following a singing yellow brick road — cleverly takes you through woods, a jungle, Kalidah country and a poppy field.

In each scene, a group of very talented young singers provide beautiful harmonies that help transport us to each land along the way and keep the soulful vibe pulsing along with the orchestra.

Meanwhile, fabulous dancers are in turn a dangerous twister, siren-like poppies and a host of colourful characters.

The principal dancer, Sophie MacDonald, displays a breathtaking level of skill and grace to lead her fantastic dance corp’s wonderful choreography.

But they weren’t the only ones dancing — the whole cast is exceptional in some flawless routines such as the glittering Emerald City and the dazzling castle scene, which I loved.

(Speaking as someone who is finding it increasingly hard to kneel down and get back up again, I could only admire their energy which had the town hall absolutely bouncing.)

And there’s no shortage of acting talent in even the small parts.

I genuinely can’t name them all, but Iona Kelly’s hilariously grumpy gatekeeper was one of many that kept the laughs coming.

Finally, we meet The Wiz himself... and without giving too much away Aidan Harland is great as the sharp-suited character who urges everyone to ‘Believe in Yourself’.

I really don’t want to spoil the story but let’s just say Glinda (Amy Allan/Bethany Spowart) knows how to make an entrance while Allyssa Canon, as the fabulously wicked witch Evilenne, knows how to make an exit!

It’s obviously a massive team effort — on stage and behind the scenes—- but in the hands of these confident and talented youngsters, it just looks like great fun.

Big Bad Wolf Theatre Company presents The Wiz at Falkirk Town Hall until Saturday, February 8 at 7pm .

There is also Saturday matinee performance starting at 2pm.

Tickets can be bought online at www.bigbadwolftheatre.co.uk/box-office or by calling 0333 666 3366.

The cast: Dorothy – Jessica Riddoch; The Wiz – Aidan Harland; Tinman – Robbie Allan; Lion – Euan Arthur; Scarecrow – Freddie Bang; Evillene – Alyssa Cannon; Addaperle – Ella Dowell; Glinda – Amy Allan and Bethany Spowart; Aunt Em – Daisy Campbell and Erin MacInnes; Uncle Henry – Lochlan Black; Munchkin 1 – Ruby Walker; Munchkin 2 – Daisy Devlin; Munchkin 3 – Rosa McKean Munchkin 4 – Lua Malvessi; Gatekeeper – Iona Kelly; Lord High Underling – Adam Stewart; Messenger – Findlay Currie; Winged Monkey – Alessandro Sportelli; Field Mouse 1 – Alexander Marjoribanks; Field Mouse 2 – Alyssa Allan; Oz Citizens – Caitlin Peattie-Hume, Sarah Williamson, Fraser Herron, Lois Smillie; Chief Winkie – Gregor Jack; Principal Dancer – Sophie MacDonald; Dance Core – Jorja McFaden, Tamar-Grace Morrison, Keira Strathie, Amy Gallacher, Rosie McKean, Ruby Walker, Daisy Devlin, Nieve Lennon, Chloe Robertson; Pit Singers – Duncan Brown, Megan Broadley, Lily McGuire, Carter Lumsden, Chloe Gallacher, Bethany Spowart, Amy Allan, Erin MacInnes, James Marshall, Jenna Hamilton, Karis Black, Daisy Cambpell; Chorus – Nadine Anderson, Rowan Brockie, Orla Cannon, Ryan Carlyle, Ross Duff, Charlie Evans, Lauren Gardiner, Alice Haughton, Ella Hawthorn, Holly Herron, Iona Hynes, Orla Hynes, Miya Johnston, Natalie Johnstone,Abi Kelly, Cairn Marshall, Sarah Millar, Grace McBride, Isabella McBride, Luke McGuire, Zak Nicholson, Holly O’Connor, Blair Reid, Greg Sinclair, Eve Spacey, Zoe Stewart, Katy Walsh, Phoebe Williams, Yana Weir, Lucy Wilson.