THIS year is the 80th anniversary of the release of the cinema classic, The Wizard of Oz. The heart-warming tale of Dorothy and her quest to get home to Kansas is as charming, funny and uplifting as it ever was. Ilkley audiences can delight in the story once more when the Wright Theatre Arts Dance Academy (WTA) bring their production to the King’s Hall at the end of March.

It’s an ambitious production, of impressive scale and complexity: there are 470 costume changes, a cast of 130, and numerous dance genres including ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary and Bollywood. The effect is a visually stunning retelling of Dorothy’s adventure told seamlessly through dance. The performers are enjoying the rehearsal process as much as they’re looking forward to the actual performances on March 28, 29 and 30.

Lucia Locke, age 14, plays Dorothy – and as the photos show, is having a lot of fun with the role. A veteran of previous WTA productions, Lucia loves the teamwork and the camaraderie, as well as the hard work: she even refers to the group as kind of a family. It’s apparent in rehearsals, where the joy is infectious. The cast have enough energy to fill King’s Hall and the Wharfe valley!

It’s a broader community effort – cast members come from Ilkley and beyond, including Burley, Addingham, Menston, Skipton, Kildwick and Eldwick and Bingley. There is light, laughter and high energy to go round and it’s open to all – so if you want to follow the yellow brick road for an hour or two, you know where to come!

The joy of the story is contagious, with plenty of dramatic tension and a smorgasbord of costumes, colours and choreography creating a visual feat. Familiar music is weaved throughout, from 50s rock ‘n’ roll to modern pop anthems via classical baroque – there really is something for everyone.

Brain, heart and courage all abound. It’s a tribute to hard work and friendship, as well as a reminder, as Dorothy says, that there’s no place like home.

The Wizard of Oz is on Thursday 28th, Friday 29th and Saturday 30th of March, with a matinee and an evening performance on the 30th. Tickets are now on sale at

Written by Claire Emmott