Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

It's a Wizard show over the Rainbow

The Rainbow Factory's production of The Wizard of Oz

As the rain falls, and those barbecue sets are beginning to look a little rusty, our theatres are enjoying a bit of a boom this summer.

And summer productions which feature young people have been particularly popular. Not only do they provide an outlet for all that burgeoning creativity, but summer schools usually stage a final production for friends and family, so they can see just what a great groundswell of young talent we have here.

More than 57 young people from greater Belfast are involved in just such a show — the Rainbow Factory’s production of The Wizard of Oz.

The cast — which is aged between eight and 25, have been rehearsing for five weeks at a musical theatre boot camp, undergoing intensive training in dancing, singing and acting.

Tom Finlay has directed the show, and he believes those involved are the most talented of any cast he has seen before.

We’re off to see the Wizard at the Rainbow Factory Studio in Belfast’s College Square North every evening until August 15. And those who missed out on the fun this time around can brush up their song and dance routines for the next workshop auditions on August 11.

For more details about these, and about The Wizard of Oz, you can contact Joanne on 9024 0551.

The Holywood Players take the Ardhowen Theatre stage in Enniskillen in Recipe for Murder, JD Robbins’ thriller about David Lawson, a man who is feeling under the weather — and whose wife, Claire, has already lost a handful of relatives in mysterious circumstances. Is David next on the list?More clues during the production which continues in the Ardhowen until Saturday.

Belvoir Players perform Sam Cree’s Strictly for the Birds at Strule Arts Centre this evening, and Feile an Phobail is in full swing, with dramatic offerings from Kabosh, Aisling Ghear, C21 and Brassneck Theatre Company.

And don’t forget the return of Charabanc Theatre at the Grand Opera House — Marie Jones makes a welcome stage comeback in the company’s very first play, Lay Up Your Ends, which tells the story of the linen mill workers’ strike of 1911.

Whichever show you choose, while you’re sitting in the dark waiting for the curtain to rise, bid a silent farewell to veteran Larne actor Harry Towb, who died last week.

Harry, who was 83, last performed in Belfast at the Waterfront Studio in Prime Cut’s production of Owen McCafferty’s Antigone — he gave a masterclass in acting.

Throughout a packed professional life he appeared in everything from Z Cars and Dr Who to Holby City, the Avengers, Billy Bunter and Heartbeat.

His stage CV was no less impressive — from Shakespeare and Chekov to Mamet and Wilde, he was a familiar face in productions on Broadway, in the West End, Dublin, as well as his native Northern Ireland.

He acted in the premiere of Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke in 1951, and more recently in the first production of Brian Friel’s The Home Place with Tom Courtenay, and in McCafferty’s highly acclaimed Scenes from the Big Picture at the National.

Include him in your applause this weekend. The theatre is a poorer place for his passing.

grania.mcfadden@ntlworld.com

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