The Wizard of Oz
Matthew Flinders Anglican College
Flinders Performance Centre
May 21 – 23 2015
Reviewed by Rhys M Becks
Matthew Flinders Anglican College delivered a spectacular rendition of The Wizard of Oz.
Seated waiting for the show to begin, there was a monumental air of suspense, so great I felt like crying. The band began to blast a majestic tune and everyone was happy and excited. This for me is the true meaning of theatre. To be drawn away from the tribulations of daily life into another world. The lights dimmed and the band continued, as Dorothy (Rebecca Rolle) burst through door two of the theatre, breaking the the fourth wall in the best possible way, drawing us into the story immediately.
Miss Rolle most definitely stole the show with her breathtaking vocals and physical ability. It was remarkable how much Miss Rolle’s Voice matched that of Miss Judy Garland. If one were to close their eyes during the performance, they would feel as though they were watching an improved version of the motion picture. Having watched Miss Rolle’s last production year, I expected nothing short of a professional performance, and my goodness, she certainly delivered.
Then there was Jackson Reedman (Scarecrow). I must say that this was the sassiest portrayal of the scarecrow I have ever seen. But I liked it, because despite it being an unconventional portrayal, it worked. Mr Reedman put a fresh twist on the role and put a lot of self into it without making a mockery of the character. I do not know if the sass was intended, but it was there. I loved how Mr Reedman assumed the posture of the scarecrow, and how in movement he was not tense yet unstable, and a little bit floppy. This aided him in making us believe that he was truly a scarecrow. Mr Reedman has a lovely classic broadway type of belt, which is all well and good. Yet at times (not very often) the clarity of a lyric was lost.
Mr Reedman has a decent stage presence. During the show that I attended, at the end of the scene where Dorothy and the scarecrow are tormenting the trees for their apples, Toto (Nala Rolle, an actual dog) was not ready in the wings for her cue. Mr Reedman saves the day by inquiring, “Dorothy where is your dog?” To which she replies, “Over there!” He continues, “Where? Oh never mind, we don’t need him anyway!”
STOP PRESS! Jackson Reedman is off to do musical theatre at AMDA!
The scene continued, and Dorothy made acquaintance with the Tin-Man.
Henry Jeaffreson gave an accurate representation of the Tin-Man. He delivered lines and vocals with perfect clarity. He gave a delightful tap dance every so often. He was choppy in his movement, which made him seem more mechanical, therefore we believed that he was made of tin. The Tin-Man was made to be a passive character more so than the scarecrow at least, yet not as passive as the Cowardly Lion. He makes us feel sympathy by emphasising the fact that he has no heart. Mr Jeaffreson did this very well without making it obvious. He did not stand out massively for me. This may or may not have been done on purpose.
I feel the same way about William Smith. Mr Smith performed a decent rendition of the Cowardly Lion. His speech was as clear as day, yet his singing was at times a little disjointed by perhaps his lack of breath. Yet his clarity of speech and movement made up for this. He appeared to be cuddly and generally quite soppy, which is precisely the character of the Cowardly Lion.
The lighting and sound were phenomenal. The school also utilised the projector in such a manner that it did not lower the excellence of the show, by becoming a distraction. The transitions between scenes were smooth, practical and visually pleasing, largely due to a purpose built revolve. My favorite transition was during the tornado when Dorothy was standing inside the farmhouse, pressed against its walls in shock, as the house is spun around by stage hands in theatre blacks.
The band in the pit was absolutely astounding, I have never in my life heard a student band play so professionally.
All these performers working together as a collective gave a sterling performance. For a student production the calibre was high. I now have high expectations for the next production year. Yet unfortunately these brilliant aforementioned performers will not be attending the college by then, as this is their senior year.
Overall the show was wonderfully performed, and people of all ages (11-18) worked together very nicely, with a marvellous, dazzling end result.
Rhys M Becks attends MFAC (Year 10). You can see the show he’s producing with Humming Bird Media in October at Matthew Flinders Anglican College.
Tickets on sale in September 2015.