KYDS Youth Drama Society
“The Wizard of Oz”

Director – Alexandra Berriman
Assistant Director – Alice Mason
Musical Director – Leah Cave
Choreographer – Amy Hart

Reviewed at Thurstable School, Tiptree, Essex on  Saturday 29 June 2019

To celebrate their tenth anniversary, Director and founder member Alexandra Berriman chose The Wizard of Oz for their Summer Production. She told me that she had always wanted to produce this show, with the calibre and hard work of the team, her choice was proved right. This was a very special and happy show.

Although the venue was beset with problems Alex and her team worked incredibly hard to produce this show. The members of KYDS prove each year, just how much talent Tiptree has and I’m always amazed at the amount of work that goes into their productions. All of their brilliant, colourful costumes, made by the members; the sets made by the crew and parents, coupled with the backstage help, go to make their shows incredibly magical. A special mention must go to the yellow brick road, made by the members, running the whole length of the auditorium aisle, every yellow brick, hand laid to the foam base. I understand it took many hours to complete!

Everyone knows the story of The Wizard of Oz. Who cannot say that they have never seen the famous film with Judy Garland as Dorothy? The familiar line up of the leading characters was all well executed by the talented cast. Grace Robards was a confident Dorothy, with a lovely clear singing voice, who held the stage well capturing the innocence and assuredness of the character perfectly. Her singing of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ was just delightful. She had the most adorable Toto (Ginger Biscuit Bookaboo Hens) who stole the show with his sad little face.

Charlie Warner, with his wonderful floppy flexible frame and huge smile gave us a super Scarecrow. He has a lovely voice and was a joy to watch as he stuffed the straw constantly into his shirt. I have watched Charlie grow as an actor over the years and he has really come into his own.

Beau Hens as Tinman, was really endearing. How he kept cool in the intense heat of the hottest day of the year in his super tin costume I don’t know but he gave us a confident bright performance.

Tom Hennessey as the Cowardly Lion was superb. What a great performance from this young man. Full of confidence and energy Tom came alive on stage, conveying humour, cowardice and pathos. He certainly was one of the actors who stole the show and I look forward to seeing him do more for KYDS.

Daisy Loerns as Auntie Em and Glinda the Good Witch was lovely. Good characterisation and warmth in each role while looking pretty as a picture as Glinda with her special bubble wand, which was very effective on the stage.

Lola Emson as the unpleasant Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West was suitably evil, keeping up her American accent throughout, as did the entire cast. Good costumes and wonderful green makeup, her melting scene was cleverly orchestrated.

Lots of good smaller but essential roles from all the cast – too many to mention but Matthew Greed as Uncle Henry/Guard and Olly Smith as the Professor and the Wizard of Oz gave us confident performances.

The choreography by Amy Hart was good with excellent dance scenes.. I loved the crows, jitterbugs and the trees. The Munchkins, farmhands, monkeys, Winkies, poppies, generals and villagers were all enthusiastic obviously enjoying every minute of the show.

The set was fairly basic but Auntie Ems house, the Emerald City sparkly green doors and the huge scary wizard face were very well done. Props were good, especially the little house on the fishing line when the twister came. Again I must congratulate the wardrobe department for the super costumes.

The ten piece orchestra ably led by Musical Director Leah Cave produced an excellent sound although sometimes a little loud but luckily the leads all had mikes so we were able to hear all the songs really well.

Lighting and Sound were well done although I would have liked a little more lighting cover during some scenes but I did understand how little time they have to get this right. Overall, this was a very visually pleasing, well-acted and effectively staged youth musical. My thanks go to Marcus Churchill, for looking after us during the show and for his super programme which was very informative and colourful.

I congratulate everyone involved as I know just how much hard work went into this production. Well done and I look forward to coming to your pantomime at the end of this year.

Christine Davidson
NODA East, District 8

NORTH ESSEX THEATRE GUILD
SHOWCASE FESTIVAL 2018-19

COMPANY: KYDS
PRODUCTION: The Wizard of Oz
DIRECTOR: Miss Alexandra Berriman
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Alice Mason
MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Leah Cave
ADJUDICATORS: Kerry King accompanied by Martin Rayner
DATE: 28th June 2019

FRONT OF HOUSE MANAGER. Ann Morton

There was a warm friendly and helpful greeting from the charming Front of House gentleman and excellent seating which is always useful when writing notes! There were also plenty of hot and cold drinks along with sweets and chocolate which proved to be very popular. It was great that the house seemed pretty full and the audience were obviously looking forward to being entertained by KYDS. We loved the yellow brick road which led from the entrance, through the auditorium and on to the stage which meant that we could all experience part of ‘the journey’!

PROGRAMME. Marcus Churchill

The programme was excellent, it was colourful with all the information required along with photographs (always very useful) and made a very interesting read.

BAND: MD. Leah Cave. Phil Toms. Rob Miles. Shaun Ballisat. Tess Jewson. Julie Waugh.
Nina Morris. Janet Parr. John Malam. Ryan Sharman.

We were impressed with how many musicians there were which must be the envy of many local groups! Inevitably, even with microphones, the young vocalists could not always be heard above the band. Well directed by Leah Cave, the band produced a good sound for this show, not only with their accompaniment but providing music during scene changing.

STAGE MANAGEMENT. Kev Morton. John Casey. Lee Cole. Jake Lunniss.WoodyWhymark

Even with a minimalistic set, it is not easy to not only have to pull tabs but to move furniture quickly and quietly. On the whole, this was managed very well and the team were kept on their efficient toes as there were quite a number of scene changes.

LIGHTING DESIGN/OPERATION. Woody Whymark and Sam Dutch.

Considering the lack of resources, Woody certainly managed to create some good effect with his lighting design. Operated by Sam, the timing was excellent throughout. Lighting added specific colour with the two Witches with green for the Wicked Witch and warm soft colours for Glinda. It would have added to the ‘Rainbow song’ to have had various colours added during the song. There was good full stage lighting for the ensemble numbers and spots were effective and well placed. The castle and Emerald City were lit well and managed to convey a different ambience for each. Well done for making full and effective use of limited resources.

SOUND OPERATION. Dan Bilsland

It is not easy to control the volume and balance of radio mikes particularly when there are so many but Dan managed to keep the levels pretty consistent. The sound was muffled at times but this could have been due to
intermittent radio signals. The sound for this show was obviously in good hands.

COSTUMES/MAKE-UP. Alex Berriman. Alice Mason. Lesley Thompson. Pam Robards. Louise Robards.

The costumes and make-up for each of the main characters was excellent. Dorothy was dressed in the iconic blue gingham and Aunt Em and Uncle Henry looked the part as the farmer and wife. The Tin Man was one of the best I have seen, and the Scarecrow and Lion with good make-up helped to create that visual picture of the trio that we have all come to expect. The Wicked Witch certainly looked the part and Glinda looked beautiful in her gown (great change of costume from the staid Miss Gulch) and the total contrast between the two really helped to make the visual contrast between good and bad. We loved the monkey masks which looked so realistic they really were scary! The trees, crows, and red cloaks were all effective and added fun and colour. The ensemble costumes and various cameo roles all added to the colourful visual picture. The Winkies in black with black fur hats looked very effective. Well done to all involved in creating a constant fun and colourful visual picture.

SCENERY and PROPS. Kev Morton. Ann Morton. Louise Warner. Nick Warner. Chris Robards.
Louise Robards. Simon Loerns. Leena Loerns. Jayne Hens. Jo Hennessey.

The yellow brick road was fun and the house stage right with a practical front door together with the fence, gave the sense of a farmyard. With the many varied venues it made sense to minimise any set and stage furniture which meant that the pace did not suffer with slow scene changing. What was used such as the Scarecrow ‘in a field’ was effective and was all that was needed. The small house, waved in front of the closed tabs for the ‘tornado’ scene, brought about much laughter. The large flowers held by the Munchkins also worked well as did the trees which cast ghostly shadows on the back wall. The Emerald City set was excellent and created a real sense of this ‘green city’. The large green ‘mask’ was very impressive.
Props. Props are a very important part of any production and it was obvious that attention was made to ensure that props were effective. From the tin dish, suitcase, fire, crystal ball, basket and axe to the apples, miniature house, and rope for the balloon, the props had all been well thought about and certainly added to the visual picture.

CHOREOGRAPHY Amy Hart
For a large and diverse ensemble the choreography has to be cleverly designed and it certainly was for this show.
Not too complex moves to accomplish meant that all movement and well-rehearsed dancing was very effective and good to watch.

CAST

Grace Robards as Dorothy Gale

Grace gradually relaxed into the part of Dorothy as the evening progressed. As she wrote in her piece in the programme she was not in her comfort zone, and this did show when she first appeared on stage as she looked so nervous. If Grace could have managed to smile, particularly when interacting with the others it would have helped to steady her nerves and added a lovely dynamic to the character. Gradually, her nerves did diminish a little and she demonstrated that she has some good acting techniques and a good singing voice. Grace did really well managing Toto, with apparent ease. With the confidence of having this iconic role under her belt and working on how to minimise the effects that nerves can have, Grace will do well.

Daisy Loerns as Auntie Em/Glinda

Daisy showed her acting skills and ability to play different characters by being a very maternal ‘American Auntie’ and then transforming into a beautiful fairy Glinda. Her tone of voice and projection was just right and she moved gracefully and I am sure made all the girls in the audience wish they could be her.

Matthew Greed as Uncle Henry/Guard

Matthew’s American accent as Uncle Henry was good as was his portrayal of this farmer making him into an affable and likeable character. When playing the guard, Matthew made sure that this character was different and made sure that he showed an air of authority by how he spoke and moved.

Charlie Warner as Scarecrow

Charlie was very believable as the Scarecrow making this character into a lovable personality. Charlie has a good stage presence and together with his projection not only in voice but in how he presented the Scarecrow, illustrated that he has talent beyond his years. His physicality throughout and the way in which he moved and flopped about together with his general demeanour was very impressive.

Beau Hens as Tinman

Beau was VERY convincing in how he moved, stiffly when needing to be oiled and then a smooth transition when oil was sprayed into his joints. His voice was very well suited to this character and his stage presence, movements and interaction with others together with his portrayal of Tinman was excellent.

Tom Hennessey as Lion

Tom made an excellent Lion. His facial expressions, the way he moved, his stage presence and how he presented Lion, helped this character to come alive. Tom has a very good sense of comedy and this made an
extremely good contrast with the other two as they could then all bounce off each other.

Scarecrow:Tinman: Lion.

The way in which these three interacted with each other and with Dorothy, was a sheer pleasure to watch. Each of them had a different character, displayed by how they moved, spoke and sang. They each displayed an excellent notion of stage presence, gave an all-round performance and made a very believable and enjoyable threesome. Well done.

Lola Emson as Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch

Lola played Miss Gulch as a dominant powerful lady with good projection and body language.
Becoming the Wicked Witch she made sure that not only did she look the part but that Miss Gulch’s qualities were also inherent. How she moved and spoke certainly created a witch that invited boos and displeasure. Well done.

Morgan Sheldon as Nikko/Munchkin Mayor

Morgan played both these roles with relative ease. He carried off being a Mayor who was challenged height wise quite admirably as it is not easy to walk on ones knees! Whenever he was on stage he ensured that he exuded energy and focus and was always interesting to watch.

Marcus Renshaw as Winkie General/Munchkin Barrister
As Winkie General, Marcus looked right and ensured his body language was of military bearing. He made a convincing Munchkin Barrister and interacted well with other actors always making sure he was in the right place at the right time.

Olly Smith as Professor/Wizard of Oz

Olly played both these parts with the panache they required. With a good strong voice and bearing he made sure that each of these roles had personality differences and similarities making them both very believable.

Trees, Munchkins and Ensemble
Eva Guerra, Millie Sheldrick, Emily Hatton, Steven Hyde (as Munchkin Coroner).
Well done Eva, Millie and Emily, for making such interesting trees and being quite lovable Munchkins. You made a good Coroner Steven and all of you brought lots of energy and colour and smiles to all the songs and dances

City Fathers/Crows/Ensemble Shannon Owen (City Father).Amy Swallow (City Father) Ellisia Paper.
The crows looked great and managed to be very ‘crow-like’ in their movements. Whenever they were on stage they all managed to show lots of energy and their smiles looked as if they were enjoying being part of this fun show. Well done.

Lullaby League/Ensemble
Lilian McMichael as Lullaby League/Ensemble. Lucy Pettican as Lullaby League/Ensemble and
Maddi Warner as Lullaby League/Ensemble
Some lovely singing as the Lullaby League from you all. Well done for always smiling during the ensemble numbers and making sure you showed lots of energy and focus in whatever you were doing.

Lollipop Guild/Ensemble
George Govus as Lollipop Guild/Ensemble. Matthew Gray as Lollipop Guild/Ensemble and
Keiran Sheldon as Lollipop Guild/Ensemble

The Lollipop Guild added another sense of fun and amusement and each of you showed lots of energy, focus and it was great to see so many smiles. Well done.

Ensemble Bibi Anderson, Grace Bryson, Alice Renshaw, Alex Terry, Vinnie Weymouth,
You all played a very important part in making sure that the ensemble numbers were really entertaining to watch. It was great to see everyone smiling and the dance routines were excellent. Well done.

Biscuit as Toto
Thank you Biscuit for creating such a cute addition to The Wizard of Oz production. I am not sure if I observed you smiling but you certainly looked as if you were comfortable in what you were doing albeit a hint of nerves perhaps at the very beginning which was hardly noticeable, obviously due to your acting prowess.
We wish you every success in your future career with Netflix.

DIRECTION
Alexandra Berriman assisted by Alice Mason.

It is always uplifting to watch young people produce a show not only by displaying their talent but with obvious enthusiasm. This kind of energy and visible delight in what they are doing is a reflection of how they are directed and Alex and Alice certainly have the ability to nurture and inspire young talent.
The ensemble numbers were extremely entertaining not only by creating a visual rainbow of colours but they had obviously been well rehearsed and encouraged to smile throughout which they did beautifully.

The twister scene, which should be as gripping as one can make it (even with limited resources) would have been more effective with lightning flashes, noises of the storm and the cast turning, twisting and ‘shouting’ as they exited through the auditorium. Doing this relatively slowly would have allowed more time to change the scenery as well as having the miniature house (which caused great merriment) being displayed through the front tabs.

There was quite a noisy scene change following the ‘Yellow Brick Road’ number and perhaps to minimise the effect of this, having the Munchkins in front of the tabs – interacting as they exited would have distracted the audience.

Blocking was good and well balanced especially for all the ensemble numbers. The only occasion when a cast member was blocked was when Glinda was at the back of the stage and Tinman, Lion, Scarecrow and Dorothy were downstage front.

The meetings with Dorothy’s three new friends were well done with their interactions and choreography used to good effect. Some lovely direction with the ‘threesome’ making sure they exuded warmth and humour which was theatrically engaging and meant that we all loved them.
In a production with so many in the cast, having a minimal set was wise and because of the colour, action, choreography and direction the minimalistic approach was a perfect decision.

Family entertainment is the key for KYDS and the young performers looked as if they were having a great time which is always infectious with an audience. The cast certainly deserved all the positive responses and applauding they received.

Well done to you all and thank you for keeping theatre alive.

Kerry King. MA.PGCE.MPC.AIIRM