Theatre review: Wizard of Oz

Carla Allan, who plays Dorothy in MAMA's production of The Wizard of Oz. Pic: Comp.

Carla Allan, who plays Dorothy in MAMA's production of The Wizard of Oz. Pic: Comp.

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AT the time of its release, the 1939 adaptation of L Frank Baum’s classic children’s novel was the most expensive movie in the history of MGM studios.

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Brunton Theatre

While this stage production from Musselburgh Amateur Musical Association may not have had a budget of millions, it easily rivals its famed predecessor in sheer entertainment value.

Stars Carla Allan, Ali MacDougall, Mark Becher and Justin Skelton assume Midwest American accents with admirable dedication and consistency, but the most joyous moments of the evening arrive when the cast’s true nationality shines through. It’s clear that all concerned take their roles seriously, yet their performances are playful enough to withstand even the most obvious complaints.

Many can’t sing or dance, while others struggle to utter even a single word of comprehensible dialogue. Certainly, none boast the star power of young Judy Garland. In other hands, this script from the Royal Shakespeare Company has resulted in truly spectacular pieces of musical theatre, but director David Ross made a wise decision in choosing to present something altogether more intimate.

The story of Dorothy’s conflict with a wicked witch and eventual realisation that there’s nowhere like home proves well suited to The Brunton. Musselburgh may be a long way from Kansas, but its residents clearly echo the heroine’s sentiments.

Munchkins of all size and age serenade us with an infectious rendition of Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead, while Somewhere Over the Rainbow is enlivened by the presence of a real dog playing Toto. By the time Bob Crawford’s dotty wizard misplaces his props on stage, most are simply too amused to notice.

More closely resembling pantomime than a conventional musical, it’s difficult to consider The Wizard of Oz as having real artistic merit, but very rarely does one come across a show so overflowing with personality and good humour.

• Run ends Saturday