Entertainment Hive 2020

The Wizard of Oz, presented by John Frost and Suzanne Jones

Adelaide Festival Theatre, until April 29

Review by Honey B

What a spellbinding ride over the rainbow it was at the opening night of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of The Wizard of Oz at the Adelaide Festival Centre on Thursday, April 5. This colourful, high-tech and lavish production was based on the 2011 London Palladium version and it is pure musical escapism to another, much-loved world. The show remains faithful to the original L. Frank Baum tale and the 1939 classic film starring Judy Garland. Beginning in sepia tones the harsh Kansas farming landscape is brought to life before our young, unsuspecting heroine and her adorable dog, Toto are swept up into the twister. The video projection of the twister was mesmerising and the thunder and lightning had audience members jumping in their seats. With Dorothy no longer in Kansas and her house having wiped out the Wicked Witch of the East, her journey begins to find the Wizard of Oz, who is said to be the only one who can help her get home. Samantha Dodemaide as Dorothy fills those sparkly ruby red slippers brilliantly as she brought a wide-eyed innocence and a streak of feistiness to the role. Her rendition of Over the Rainbow was nothing short of spine-tingling. The young Dodemaide has a smile that rivalled her co-star Lucy Durak (Glinda the Good) and Dodemaide proved that she could sing, dance and act in an endearing performance. However, the two little Australian terriers playing Toto outshone the whole cast and won plenty of “oohs’’ and “aahs’’ from the audience. The perfect pooches, Trouble and Flick, were trained by Luke Hura and share the role every night. With the colourful Munchkins telling Dorothy to “follow the yellow brick road’’ it was not long before she came across her three travelling companions – Scarecrow (Eli Cooper), Tin Man (Alex Rathgeber) and Lion (John Xintavelonis). Cooper, Rathgeber and Xintavelonis were all charming in their roles and kudos go to the super floppy Cooper as Scarecrow. Cooper had brilliant comic timing and his physicality was superb. Just like Dorothy, Scarecrow/Cooper won a special place in my heart. With the good versus bad theme, Durak as good witch Glinda was bristling with sparkle, while Jemma Rix as the Wicked Witch of the West was gloriously and gleefully wicked. With both ladies having starred previously in Wicked their strong connection was obvious. Rounding out this all-star cast was Anthony Warlow as Professor Marvel/The Wizard and what a joy it was to see Warlow transform as the mighty, all-powerful Oz to the bumbling carnival man with all of his ticks and odd behaviours. While this production featured all of our favourite Wizard of Oz songs by Harold Arlen and E.Y Harburg from We’re Off To See The Wizard to If I Only Had a Brain and Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead, there are now eight new songs by Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice included. Most of these new songs add to the character’s arc, however are not as memorable as the original pieces. There are a few exceptions which include The Wizard’s Bring Me The Broomstick and Red Shoe Blues written for the Wicked Witch. Glinda’s Home Is a Place in Your Heart is a bit more sweetly sentimental. Ding dong, don’t be left green with envy and see this superb cast in a musical magical realising of The Wizard of Oz.
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