FRANTIC, colourful, mesmerising puppetry, and creatively clever in adapting to a modern audience – the perfect summary of The Wizard of Oz, at Bradford's Alhambra. 

The show is not here for a long time – running from Tuesday, March 19 until Saturday, March 23 – but it certainly gave me a good time.

I was in the crowd for Wednesday’s performance and the show started with a bang, quite literally, as the curtain was raised and we were presented with a broken piece of farming equipment in old-time and grayscale Kansas.

We were introduced to Dorothy and furry best chum Toto, with the young girl longing for a different life.

Aviva Tulley, playing the lead, gave a charismatic performance throughout and belted out classic 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' to rapturous applause.

This was one of several impressive vocal performances from Tulley.

The stage was quickly enveloped in a vicious tornado, showcased by the back screen and translucent front curtain flashing videos, as well as Dorothy spinning around on a loose door – it was rather loud but I think it added to the chaos.

Then… BAM!

We were greeted with the scene of Dorothy, Toto, and a house lodged in the ground.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Glinda (Emily Bull), Toto (Abigail Matthews), and Dorothy (Aviva Tulley)Glinda (Emily Bull), Toto (Abigail Matthews), and Dorothy (Aviva Tulley) (Image: Marc Brenner)

When the dust settled, the audience’s eyes were treated to the multicoloured, fantastical world of Munchkin Land – a stark contrast to Dorothy’s previously dull life before.

There was a long rendition of 'Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead' from the new land’s inhabitants, poking fun at a flattened Wicked Witch of the East, under the house.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Marc BrennerMarc Brenner (Image: Marc Brenner)

Both The Scarecrow, played by Benjamin Yates, and The Cowardly Lion, played by Nic Greenshields, had the audience chuckling with their playful personalities and quick quips.

Femi Akinfolarin was more robot than Tin Man and synced perfectly with sound effects for his movement.  

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Scarecrow (Benjamin Yates) and The Cowardly Lion (Nic Greenshields)The Scarecrow (Benjamin Yates) and The Cowardly Lion (Nic Greenshields) (Image: Marc Brenner)

This modernisation was a theme of the show, with nods to 21st century culture in one performer taking a selfie, another riding around on a moped, as well as various adverts in the Emerald City to the likes of Ozbuck and Ozeon.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A nod to the modern with Ozeon in the Emerald CityA nod to the modern with Ozeon in the Emerald City (Image: Marc Brenner)

My favourite character interestingly had no lines and simply barked.

Abigail Matthews’ masterful use of a puppet version of Toto on her arm, as well as separately moving his tail, made me truly believe a very well-behaved and trained live dog was on the stage.

My other half mused that Matthews must have a pet dog herself, given how authentic the puppetry was – from running after some sausage to snarling at the Wicked Witch of the West, played by The Vivienne.

The Vivienne – the original champion of the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK – proved an imposing figure on the stage.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Wicked Witch of the West, played by The VivienneThe Wicked Witch of the West, played by The Vivienne (Image: Marc Brenner)

But I felt more could have been made of the scene where she was melted – with a fire extinguisher in another clever modern twist – as it almost came from nowhere.

Overall though it was a dazzling production, exemplified by the Wizard of Oz himself who was garbed in a bright, gemmed green suit when he was unmasked.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Gary Wilmot as the Wizard of OzGary Wilmot as the Wizard of Oz (Image: Marc Brenner)

You best be quick if you want to enjoy the show yourself – the last few tickets are still available for Friday evening, Saturday at 2.30pm and the final show at 7.30pm that same day, at the time of writing.

The Wizard of Oz then moves on to Plymouth in the next stop of its UK tour.