THE WIZARD OF OZ--STAGE MUSICAL ADAPTION OF TEH MOVIE BY ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER--REVIEW OF TOURING COMPANY
Submitted by GreatMartin on January 08th, 2014 – Flag this news as inappropriate
2014 started off with a visit to Kansas, and then Oz, with Dorothy, Toto, the Tinman, the Scarecrow, the Lion, the wicked witch of the west, the good witch Glinda and, of course, the wizard of Oz. It was fun greeting all our old friends at the Broward Performing Arta Center in a cold (everything is relative) rainy Fort Lauderdale.
Who hasn’t seen the classic film of 1939 at least once if not many times? It has almost become a yearly ritual in homes and children in the auditorium recognize Dorothy as soon as they see her. Some applauded Glinda and the green wicked witch of the west now knowing more about them from “Wicked”. It was like old home week for everyone.
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams have adapted the movie to the stage making some minor changes and adding 21st century humor here and there. Webber and his musical partner Tim Rice have added some songs like “Nobody Understands Me” for Dorothy’s opening number and “Red Shoes Blues” for the wicked witch plus 2 for the wizard but with the exception of the lion’s “If I Were The King Of The Forest” they have retained all the songs by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg including “We’re Off To See The Wizard”, “If I Only Had A Heart” (or a brain or courage as the case fits), “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead” among others including the iconic “Over The Rainbow”.
Danielle Wade, as Dorothy, has to share the red sequined shoes of the original Dorothy but also the audience’s memory of the movie. Her first number which is by Webber and Rice doesn’t really show off her voice and her second song is THAT song and you can almost hear the audience hold their breath. She does the smart thing by just being herself and singing her own interpretation of the classic “Over The Rainbow”. Wade got her role from competing in a Canadian TV reality show and though one may expect that aspect to be in her singing the only time it shows is when she holds the last note of Rainbow a little longer than expected. She is more than adequate in the role but is lacking the ‘star’ power to carry show which she doesn’t have to due to a strong supporting cast.
Webber and Sams modernize the show a bit too much like making the cowardly lion, played by Lee MacDougall, gay though the audience does crack up when he mentions being “a friend of Dorothy’s”. Jamie McKnight, as the scarecrow, is certainly limber and gets the laughs the role provides while Mike Jackson as the tinman has all the right moves and is a lot more impressive out of costume when he takes his bow, not being recognized until he does a tinman step!.
Jacquelyn Piro Donovan isn’t evil enough mainly playing her role for laughs while Robin Evan Willis as Glinda is all sparkles, smiles and goodness. Jay Brazeau, as the wizard, is excellent while the ensemble gives good support in all the numbers.
The choreography is pedestrian as are the songs added by Webber and Rice. The set and costume designer, Robert Jones, brings a lot of color and along with the video work of Jon Driscoll, many special effects. The production errs in the casting of the Munchkins not using shorter people.
When it came to the curtain calls the last to come out for his bow (and treat!) was Toto, played by Nigel, a rescued dog from the Humane Society, who got a standing ovation and a roar from the crowd. He never missed a cue whether engulfed by smoke on the stage or whoever he was acting opposite and he had a lot of time on stage. Now if only the production came up to his standards this would be a monster hit!
Running time First act 1 hour and 10 minutes Intermission 20 minutes Second act 50 minutes----a lot of smoke, strobe lights, haze and many loud noises.
Next at the broward performing arts center “Memphis The Musical” February 25
PICTURES BY PHOTOGRAPHER CYLIA VON TIEDEMANN PROVIDED BY PR CHARLOTTE VERMAAK