This Christmas, Curve is whisking us to the Emerald City with musical The Wizard of Oz – a production which was originally scheduled to run over Christmas 2020, but postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the end of the Yellow Brick Road in sight, we spoke to Director Nikolai Foster to find out more about what we can expect from this year’s Made at Curve Christmas musical.
It’s been over two years since we first heard about you directing The Wizard of Oz, how have your ideas developed over this time?
“I suppose they’ve really developed quite a lot since we all started meeting and chatting about it. The first thing I realised quite early on is that there is a trap directors and creative teams can fall into with pieces like this which are seen as extraordinary and otherworldly – you can feel you have free rein to do whatever you want with it. So the very first thing I did was to read L. Frank Baum’s original novel and found everything we need is right there. Like all of these great children’s stories, there’s a reason they are repeated, retold, rediscovered and redone throughout the years. It is a work of genius.
“To begin with we went down one road and then I sort of went back to Baum’s novel and thought – no, we just need to trust what he’s written. After that we really started loving the idea of the Yellow Brick Road being Route 66 – the iconic highway of hopes and dreams which stretches across the United States. Colin, our designer, and I have really enjoyed bringing elements of 1950s Americana to the piece and so all the stops on our Yellow Brick Road relate to that idea. We’re also having fun with our Wicked Witch, picturing her as a power hungry, larger than life, oil tycoon. All these things – oil, the environment, the American dream – are present in Baum’s original book so we’re just bringing these out in a really colourful and vivid way. When audiences see what Colin and Rachael (the production’s Costume and Puppet Designer) have created, I think it will be really mind-blowing.”
It’s the first time this production, with additional songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, has been performed outside of London in the UK, making it extra special. Curve’s productions – especially at Christmas – are landmark moments aren’t they?
“Absolutely. It’s so cool to us to have produced something like Billy Elliot this summer, which was stripped back and very raw and celebrates the architecture of the building, and then to look ahead to what will be a real Christmas spectacular.
“As well as Colin and Rachael’s designs we’ve got an amazing animator, film designer Douglas O’Connell, who is putting together what feels like a three-dimensional film to take audiences on the journey along the Yellow Brick Road. This will be presented on giant LED screens so the impact will be incredible for the audience.
“There’ll be acres of costumes, sets for days – we just need to work out where it all fits!”
Running November 19 to January 8, tickets for The Wizard of Oz at Curve are on sale now.
To find out more and book now, visit www.curveonline.co.uk