Raglan production of ‘Oz’ blows away full houses

There could scarcely have been a better weekend for locals to be transported from grim reality to a world of fantasy.

As wild westerlies buffeted Raglan, locals packed the town hall last Saturday and Sunday for three sell-out shows of ‘Oz’, an ambitious adaptation of the classic musical which sees a young farm girl whisked away in a tornado from Kansas to a make-believe land of witches and Munchkins where good ultimately overcomes evil.

Fifteen-year-old Sequoia Gavin-McCabe as Dorothy led a cast of 40 children and teens from Raglan Theatre Academy who brought the iconic last-century story – written by L Frank Baum but made famous by Hollywood’s Judy Garland in the 1939 screen adaptation – to life.

Sequoia’s standout performance was well supported by those of the scarecrow (Poppy Holland) who needs a brain, the tin man (Ollie Holland) missing a heart and the cowardly lion (Tom Hannon) in search of courage.

Together with Dorothy’s dog, Toto, they follow the Yellow Brick Road toward the Emerald City to meet “the great and powerful” wizard of Oz, played creditably by a moustached Connor Marquand.

Their adventures along the way with a lively supporting cast didn’t falter, and captivated the crowds for each of the one-and-a-half hour performances.

Producer and drama teacher Ruth Hare – who was delighted with the success of the show – coaches her young proteges weekly at the Old School Arts Centre. “They’re such a passionate bunch of kids,” she told the Chronicle.

She teaches them theatre skills and techniques the first half of the year, working towards a full-scale production after that.

But this year’s show was at a whole new level, she reckons. “There were so many different elements, from live music to dance, singing, acting … it was all go.”

Ruth credits her production team for transforming ‘Oz’ into an on-stage extravaganza, making particular mention of costume designer Maddie Alexander and set designer Simon Willisson.

Edith Symes

Images thanks to Leanne Roughton