Directed by Clive Stanyon
The Riverside Players’ production of The Wizard of Oz was being staged at Furlongs farm, Eynsford between July 31st and August 8th and brought a little part of Kansas and the magic of Oz to the Darenth Valley.
It was being directed by Clive Stanyon – who can forget his Fagin in Oliver! With Ciive’s direction and the creativity and experience of the Riverside Players’ production team, The Wizard of Oz was a most spectacular experience.
There will be a live orchestra, fully licensed bar, plenty of space to picnic before the show and authentic ‘street theatre’ to set the scene and lead you to Kansas.
Dorothy – Anya Williment
Dorothy (31st July and 8th Aug Matinee) – Claire Marsh
Scarecrow/Hunk – Christian Lloyd
Tinman/Hickory – Ian Slipper
Lion/Zeke – Lawrence Watling
Aunt Em/Glinda – Vanessa Elliot
Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch – Claire Dingley
Professor Marvel/The Wizard – Richard Gissing
Toto – Dolly (If she promises not to sing!)
From the Bexley Times 19th Aug 2009
I sometimes wonder what open-air theatre is actually for, writes Mark Campbell.
Is it just a novel way of performing something that could equally well (better, perhaps) be done indoors? Or should there be something integral to the outdoor setting?
The Riverside Players’ recent production of The Wizard of Oz showed exactly what the point was: truth told, I have never seen a more spectacular site-specific open-air show in my life.
Beguiling, exciting, dramatic and strangely moving, this enormously impressive musical captured the essence of the wonderful MGM movie right from the off.
The story starts in a farm of course, and so Eynsford’s Furlongs Farm, complete with realistic farmyard smells, was the ideal venue.
From there, a stunning light and sound show (sans wind-machines, sadly) whisked Dorothy and Toto off to the magical land of Oz – where things just got better and better.
Christian Lloyd was an acrobatically raggedy Scarecrow, with Ian Slipper a robotic Tin Man with a Cyberman-style backstory, and Lawrence Watling a campy Cowardly Lion with a decidedly droopy tail.
As Dorothy, Claire Marsh – understudying for Anya Williment – gave a bold, confident performance, coping admirably when her feisty pooch did her best to destroy the set early on.
Vanessa Elliot exuded warmth as good witch Glinda, while a green-faced Claire Kingshott coaxed many a ‘Boo!’ from the audience as the heartless Wicked Witch of the West.
As the ineffectual Wizard, Dick Kemp was dwarfed by an astonishing mechanical Oz head that looked like something from Doctor Who.
The hidden orchestra were note-perfect throughout and the huge chorus of poppies, snowgirls, trees, and monkeys wore the most amazing costumes, designed and made by the players themselves.
The production team of Clive Stanyon, Phil Ward, Jo Groves, Lynda Newton and Debbie Beard, together with their enormous team of backstage workers, really did create a mini-masterpiece. In a field in Kent.
“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more!”