A Whimsical Journey Down the Yellow Brick Road: Gosford Musical Society’s The Wizard of Oz

Gosford Musical Society’s production of The Wizard of Oz, currently playing at Laycock Street Community Theatre, is a vibrant tapestry of whimsy and wonder, infused with a palpable affection for the timeless story it seeks to tell. Under the thoughtful direction of Chris King and Emma Paulley, the production blossoms into a captivating journey, albeit with moments that hint at untapped potential. While occasionally encountering rhythmical and ensemble integration challenges, their creative vision nonetheless crafts a space where the magic of Oz can thrive, inviting the audience into its embrace with open arms.

The musical direction, helmed by Chris Hochkins, stands as a testament to the enduring power of the show’s melodies, weaving a harmonious foundation that uplifts the spirit of the tale. Despite instances where the ensemble vocals don’t quite hit the mark, the overall musical ambience envelops the audience in a warm, nostalgic glow reminiscent of their first encounter with the Emerald City.

A narrative as visually rich as The Wizard of Oz demands a setting that complements its fantastical elements, and here, Benjamin Hudson’s set and projection design aim for an aesthetic of elegant simplicity. This minimalistic approach often comes across as an afterthought rather than a deliberate artistic choice. It relies more heavily on the audience’s imagination, encouraging viewers to engage more actively with the story’s unfolding. The special effects, ambitious in their scope, aspire to add layers of enchantment, even if their integration occasionally overshadows the actors’ performances.

The costumes designed by Rhonda Griffiths emerge as a dazzling highlight, weaving a visual spell that is as integral to the show’s success as any song or dance. Griffiths’ creations are a feast for the eyes, combining vibrant colours, intricate textures, and imaginative flair to bring each character’s unique personality and journey to life. From the rusted elegance of the Tin Man’s armour to the Cowardly Lion’s shaggy mane, these costumes are a testament to the transformative power of great design in storytelling.

The ensemble breathes life into their iconic roles with vibrant energy and nuanced interpretations. Jess King’s portrayal of Dorothy brings a refreshing maturity to the character, offering audiences a headstrong protagonist veering away from the traditional innocence associated with the role. Cody Baldwin and Brayden Macfarlane-Walker infuse the Scarecrow and Tin Man with a delightful blend of humour and heart, their performances twinkling with charm despite the odd comedic misstep. Karen Snook’s embodies the quintessential Wicked Witch, hitting all the right notes of villainy that fans would expect. Special mention to the Munchkins who were adorable in their small moment of the story.

Todd Keys, as the Lion, steals the spotlight. His outstanding performance is a masterclass in comedic timing, emotional depth, and character work. He captivates the audience with every gesture and expression, proving to be an unforgettable presence on stage. If L. Frank Baum was alive to see this production, I’m sure he would have retitled his novels “The Lion, the Witch and the 12-year-old”.

Gosford Musical Society’s The Wizard of Oz is a heartwarming production that, despite its few hitches, radiates with the joy and wonder of the classic tale. It is a nostalgic journey that rekindles the magic of Oz for new generations and old fans alike, making it a delightful experience for anyone lucky enough to follow the yellow brick road to Laycock stage.

– The other Daniel Craig


Daniel Craig is an international performer and has established himself as a trusted theatre specialist on the Sydney Arts Scene. While he understands the technical side of theatre, Dan writes for the everyday theatregoer (unlike some of those more prominent publications). When not in the audience, he loves to travel the world trying new gin. Follow him on all the socials @talldancraig

The Wizard of Oz runs for three hours (including 20 min interval) and plays at the Laycock Street Community Theatre through 02 March 2024. Tickets are available through the Laycock Street Box Office.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were guests of Gosford Musical Society.
Image credit: Playgroup Photos.