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REVIEW: Audience over-the-moon and rainbow as the Junior AYMT put on a colourful spectacle at the Tivoli

Junior AYMT took audiences on the yellow brick road to see The Wizard Of Oz at the Tivoli Theatre. Photo courtesy of Shona Arthur
Junior AYMT took audiences on the yellow brick road to see The Wizard Of Oz at the Tivoli Theatre. Photo courtesy of Shona Arthur

Troubles melted like lemon drops at Aberdeen’s Tivoli Theatre last night as young stage stars took the audience on a joyful journey “somewhere over the rainbow”.

Forget the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, the only road leading to the north-east was of the yellow variety as the talented Junior Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre lit up the iconic Granite City venue with their dazzling performance of The Wizard Of Oz.

From flying monkeys and singing munchkins to dancing crows and talking trees, it was the show that had it all.

The Tivoli Theatre was brought to life by the talented young cast of The Wizard Of Oz.

Real life Toto

There was even a real-life Toto on stage in the form of Bella the dog, the most confident of performers who had the audience eating out of the palm of her paws.

And as sparkly as the ruby red slippers on her feet was the wonderful Maria Howe who played Dorothy.

Taking on huge numbers like “Over the Rainbow” was no mean feat, but Maria took everything in her glittery shoe stride as her beautiful voice reverberated throughout the theatre.

Bella the pooch stole the show with her cute stage presence. Pictured with Esme Wright who also plays Toto in the show, a role she shares with Isobel McComiskie. Pic by Chris Sumner

‘The lion is so funny’

Leaving the audience in stitches with their hilarious antics were Dorothy and Toto’s trusty companions, the scarecrow, the lion and the tinman played by Ezra Usmani, Jess Robertson and Alexander Denison, respectively.

By the end of the first act, the little boy sitting behind me, Oliver Bews, seven, from Aberdeen, had already given the show the big thumbs up.

The 48-strong cast lit up the stage with their singing, dancing and acting.

“It’s really good,” he told me through mouthfuls of salted caramel ice-cream.

“The lion is so funny.

“My favourite is the tin man because he’s got an axe.”

‘I thought the show was funny, amazing and magical’

Like little Oliver, I too couldn’t wipe the smile from my face as the 48-strong cast put their heart and soul into the two and a half hour show.

A huge shout-out has to go to the incredible backing singers, dancers, costume makers, set designers, orchestra and back stage crew – the true unsung heroes of the show.

Nine-year-old Beth from Aberdeen, who has the claim to fame of knowing Toto aka Bella the dog, summed up the show perfectly.

Toes were tapping and hands were clapping at the colourful show.

“I thought the show was funny, amazing and magical,” said Beth.

“My favourite character was the lion because he was really funny and played his character so well.

“I also really liked the magical fairy (Glenda).”

Standing ovation

As proud mums, dads, grannies, grandpas, aunties, uncles, brothers and sisters rose to their feet for a standing ovation, the sheer elation etched on the young performers’ faces was a sight to make the heart sing.

But one of the biggest cheers of the night was reserved for placid pooch Bella, a lockdown puppy, who, according to her proud owner Wendy Brenner, is naturally a doggy diva.

“She’s a very placid dog unless you take her toy Bruce the Brussel sprout away from her,” said Wendy after the show.

“When Bella’s not performing she likes long walks on the beach, playing in the park and guarding the house from cats.

“All this work allows her to stay in peak physical condition to perform her role on stage to the best of her ability.”

The young people have bright futures ahead of them.

Leaving the theatre with a spring in my step and a smile on my face, I was certainly walking on my own yellow brick road as I made my way back to Kansas otherwise known as Bucksburn.

And for those who have tickets for tonight or tomorrow’s shows, you’re in for a real treat as this production is brighter than any rainbow I’ve ever seen.

The Wizard Of Oz by Junior AYMT runs until Saturday May 7. For tickets and information visit

Growing pains on yellow brick road to Oz for talented young Aberdeen cast

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