Follow the yellow brick road.... and various tube lines all the way to the New Wimbledon Theatre for an outing to the Land of Oz, the iconic film that has been recreated time and again, and under the glitter of Director Nikolai Foster I sat down, strapped in and awaited my turn to fly 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow'.

The set and designer of the stage are well adapted, and what lacks in a solid use of space (please note this review relates solely to the touring production) is more than made up in the additions; the petrol pump next to the Tin Man's oil can, the crime scene taped around the house on top of the witch (complete with boots poking out). Colin Richmond, (Set Designer) along with Ben Cracknell (Lighting Designer) have worked together seamlessly and it is evident; a particular favourite of mine was the stage being given depth by a series of coloured neon arches that were interchangeable; the dance/action is supplemented by a full size video screen in the background showing the storm scene, or the flying monkeys.

The changes, however, are not all subtle - Glinda the Good Witch (played by Emily Bull, who also played Aunt Em) speeds into Ox on a pink moped, wearing a pink sparkly dress which competes with the sparkle of Dorothy's (ably portraying her talented vocal range), ruby slippers, and here a firm nod must be given to Rachel Manning (Costume and Puppet Designer) who has excelled in supplying/making very authentic costumes.

It was apparent that the cast were thoroughly enjoying their roles Gary Wilmott excelled as Prof Marvel/The Wizard and of course, The Vivienne as Ms Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West played the role with joi de vive, and a lot of green facepaint! Benjamin Yates is always a safe pair of hands and as The Scarecrow/Hunk he made his legs look as if they were made from liquid. Marley Fenton as Tin Man/Hickory came to life with some great body popping/robotic moves as he was 'de-rusted' with oil.

However, my stand-out performance of the night was Nic Greenshields as Cowardly Lion/Zeke was a treat. From falling asleep and regaling us with the song 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight', to him stating that he's proud to be a friend of Dorothy - his comedic timing was on point and the younger members of the audience were enraptured.
Finally, the piece de resistance for me had to be Toto the dog with his Puppeteer. Such an adorable, affectionate dog that helped to relay the story of how Dorothy got to the Emerald City had me in fits of laughter that after much barking and gesticulating, the throwing itself to the floor and playing dead, Cowardly Lion jumps into translate and says yes, they have gone through to the castle to meet all the munchkins!

Please do keep in mind that this is not a like-for-like production but the ad-libs and the nuances are what make a very well-worth, enjoyable night out.

Tickets: here.

Review: Kay Johal