Tin Man

Choreography by Josh Arnott & dancers, music by Anna Appleby
Josh Arnott Dance
Dance City, Newcastle

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Dominic Coffey and Yue Ying Ho Credit: Josh Hawkins
Dominic Coffey , Yue Ying Ho Credit: Josh Hawkins
Dominic Coffey Credit: Josh Hawkins

It’s great to see this company back at Dance City performing the sizzlingly energetic and touching story of Tin Man, a family show for 7+, though there were plenty of younger children in the audience.

It’s a retelling of the well-known story about the Tin Man of Wizard of Oz fame, told through his daily life and his struggles.

It opens with a frightening, splendidly costumed spider Witch, danced by Charley Mitchell, who is determined to deprive the Tin Man of the oil he so needs to keep his joints and, in fact, himself going. Many of us know that feeling of rusty joints! But in addition, Tin Man, as we may remember, has no heart.

We meet Tin Man, danced touchingly by Dominic Coffey, busy with his life but alone and very rusty. We see him taunted by the Witch and then we see how he finds his first friend, the scarecrow, beautifully recreated as a puppet. Finally, the third character in this story tumbles into Tin Man’s yard: the Lion. The Lion, danced by Yue Ying Ho, is such a life force, a combination of very playful, quite untameable and incredibly lovable, and she sweeps the performance onto another level. The audience responded enthusiastically to her, applauding her delighted and delightful achievements.

All ends well as you can imagine, with Tin Man discovering his heart through friendship. There’s a playful and powerful duet between the friends Lion and Tin Man, and then Scarecrow joins in for hugs.

The finale dance, which includes the Witch, is full on fun, to which the audience clapped along.

The music is specially composed by Anna Appleby; I wasn’t entirely convinced it worked initially but warmed to it as the performance continued. The set and costumes by Eleanor Bull are really marvellous, just right and absolutely beautiful! Everything is well framed and enhanced by the excellent lighting from Josh Tomalin.

The story of overcoming obstacles and finding friendship is a universal one and this version of Tin Man told entirely through dance is unusual and very theatrical. I would have loved to see the Witch transform more, but all in all a very fine show and a wonderful introduction to dance and music for everyone.

All performances are relaxed and the performance lasts just over 50 minutes. There’re two left this year in Sheffield!

Reviewer: Dora Frankel

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