Recommended*** There are times when we wish that producers would leave things as they are ( or were in this case). “The Wizard of Oz” is a classic movie. one that comes back every year and that many generations are familiar with and learn from. Now, this new adaptation of the movie to a stage version is on the stage of The Cadillac Palace Theatre as part of the Broadway In Chicago season, and although it is filled with spectacle and some strong talent, it is played a little “Campy” for me. The music is that of the movie ( Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg) with a few surprises by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber added to the mix.
This touring company that is embarking on their own “Yellow Brick Road”, as I said earlier has some sharp talent. Dorothy, our heroine is played by Danielle Wade, who was voted the role by the Canadian public as part of a reality show called “Over The rainbow”. What a world we live in, heh?
It is a show that has its dark moments and even though you think your little one knows the story and is up for it, think again! Witches are scary, flying monkeys are scary and being held captive can be very scary. I would suggest ages five and up and because it is a two hour- fifteen minutes with an intermission, let’s look at the little ones going to a matinee. Better for them and for the other members of the audience, who may be coming from a long day at work or even a long day of taking care of the kids for a night out at the theater- remember that!
Adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams this pretty much follows the movie and with fantastic costumes and a set that gives you the feeling of Kansas, back in the Thirties and then a colorful, creative Oz, what more can you ask for? There is some terrific choreography ( Arlene Philips) including a clever tap dance sequence by the Tin Man ( Mike Jackson). The Lion ( a very funny, campy Lee MacDougall) and the scarecrow ( a very agile Jamie McKnight) all add to the feeling that we had in the film version. The wicked Witch ( Jacquelyn Piro Donavan) almost feels like a caricature instead of a character and of course watching Glenda (deftly handled by the lovely Robin Evan Willis) and Aunt Em ( Chelsey Duplak) along with Uncle Henry ( Larry Herbert) brings back many fond memories of this American Classic. Jay Brazeau does a fine turn as Professor Marvel and The Wizard. Nigel plays the part of Toto, and either he is the best trained dog I have ever seen, or, unless my eyes deceived me, there is a mix of actual dog and puppetry. Either way, IT WORKS!
This is a hard working ensemble going from Munchkins, to Villagers, to Winkies with quick changes of costumes. In fact, speaking of costumes, Dorothy does not don her blue gingham dress until she lands in Oz ( something quite different). The songs, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, “We’re Off To See The Wizard” If I only Had a — ( done several times with different needs) and the “Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead” bring back those youthful memories and being a classic, I suggest that if you have the opportunity you try and grab a look at this new adaptation. FYI- this is NOT the production that was written for young audiences that played at The Marriott and then Navy Pier several years ago- this is new and filled with many nuances that are striking. The video projections are amazing and the storm itself is worth the price of a ticket.
My grandson, Adam, who often does reviews of the “kids” shows, attended with me for his first BIG Broadway tour and he marveled some of the special effects and projections. he had seen the short version and knows the movie well ( after all, he is nine) and in the morning will send me his thoughts and ideas to place into this review.
Wednesday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sunday 1 and 6:30 p.m.
The theater is located at 151 West Randolph and tickets can be purchased ( ranging from $18- $105) by visiting the box office, calling 800-775-2000, visiting any of the Ticketmaster outlets or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com ,where you can also purchase discount parking near the Cadillac Palace Theatre
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “The Wizard of Oz”