Old meets new in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of The Wizard of Oz now playing at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.
The story, the much-loved musical numbers and all the favourite characters from the 1939 MGM movie and stage play provide `the old’.
Spectacular video projections and a number of new songs are amongst the additions.
Debuting at London’s Palladium Theatre in 2011, this production also features the glitz and glamour associated with any Lloyd Webber production.
Video projections, which brilliantly illustrate action scenes, are the most impressive additions. The standout is the portrayal of the twister which transports Dorothy from Kansas to Oz.
There are also numerous references to more contemporary events while the influence of the musical Wicked is also evident in the production.
Indeed, the show reunites the two actresses who played the witches in the Australian production of Wicked. Lucy Durack is again Glinda the Good while Jemma Rix is the Wicked Witch of the West. Durack’s ditzy Glinda contrasts perfectly with Rix’s gleeful evilness. Both look as if they are having fun and have a great rapport. They also benefit from several of the new songs with Rix’s Red Shoes Blues and Durack’s Home Is A Place In Your Heart especially providing the opportunity for both to showcase their great voices and stage presence.
Another of the eight new songs in the production is Wonders of the World, which is expertly performed by Anthony Warlow in his role as Professor Marvel. Warlow gives an equally enjoyable and memorable performance as the Wizard of Oz.
Samantha Dodemaide is excellent as Dorothy. She perfectly illustrates Dorothy’s at times sadness, innocence, naivety and feistiness. She also does a great job with such iconic numbers as Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
She is ably supported on her quest to `find the wizard’ by Eli Cooper as the Scarecrow, Alex Rathgeber as the Tin Man and John Xintavelonis as the Lion. All stayed in character and warmly deserved the ovation they received on opening night. Like all in the cast they showed their great acting and singing talents and comic timing.
Some of the biggest cheers on the night came for the four-legged star of the show – Toto. Needless to say the terrier was extremely appealing and beautifully trained. The same could be said for the ensemble cast of 21, who danced and sang with great joy, enthusiasm and skill!
The performance of all cast members, the extremely colourful costumes and sets, the music and the ingenuity of the telling of this the classic story has resulted in The Wizard of Oz playing to critical and audience acclaim wherever it has been performed. Watching the show it’s easy to see why.
The Wizard of Oz is playing at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre until July 29. Visit The Wizard of Oz website for more information.
*Photo credit: Jeff Busby.
Jenny Burns attended the opening night of The Wizard of Oz as a guest of the producers.
Visit travelswithjb.com.au-live shows for more show reviews.
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