Friday, January 25, 2013

Theatre Review: The Wizard of Oz - Toronto

Photo Credit - The CBC

Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical adaptation of the classic film, The Wizard of Oz had its North American premier in Toronto and seemingly, had all the key ingredients to the recipe for success. With an award winning creative team, and a beloved children's film with a story full of heart and sentimentality, how can a musical destined for greatness go awry? 

Danielle Wade is the beautiful ingĂ©nue, winning the coveted role of Dorothy Gale through CBC's reality television contest, Over the Rainbow. From the inflections in her voice to her image, Wade's portrayal of Dorothy very closely resembles that of Judy Garland's in the film version. There is a lot of pressure riding on Wade to fill those ruby red slippers, and though she is new on the scene, she does a respectable job playing such an iconic role. Wade beautifully infuses a blend of saccharine sweetness with sharp tongue spice and sass into the character of Dorothy. 

Wade has a very beautiful singing voice and sang 'Over the Rainbow' with childlike innocence and hopefulness. Unfortunately, the more passionate and lyrical songs were glaring omissions from what one expects in a musical from Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Where were those spellbinding moments of joy I experienced watching Lloyd Webber's productions of the popular mega-hits, The Phantom of the Opera to Cats to the lesser known Whistle Down the Wind? The haunting melodies in these musicals are what made the hairs on the nape of my neck stand and I would well-up with emotion while the performers poured their passionate hearts out in song. 

The Wicked Witch of the West is a strong and domineering character who lives up to her name and Lisa Horner does a fine job portraying  Dorothy's villainous, overarching enemy. There are a lot of campy moments, especially when watching the Lion (Lee MacDougall) scurrying into cowardice when faced with impending danger in the haunted forest. A revisit of the script is necessary to provide for more comic relief and less camp. 

Like the theatrics used by the Wizard to fool Dorothy and all of Oz into thinking he is magical, so too, does the scenic and costume designer (Robert Jones). The land of Oz is constructed with a lot of smoke and mirrors and not much else. Small children will delight in the vibrant colours of sets and costumes, but what is lacking is creativity and innovation in bringing to life the enchanting Emerald City and its citizens .  

The Wizard of Oz falls short of being truly wonderful and even with the most sophisticated creative team, sometimes a classic should just be left the way it is. ---Alison Silveira

Starring: Danielle Wade and Cedric Smith
Music by: Harold Arlen 
Additional Music by: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by: E.Y. Harburg 
Additional Lyrics by: Tim Rice
Directed by: Jeremy Sams
Choreographed by: Arlene Phillips

Now playing at The Ed Mirvish Theatre -

1 comment:

  1. Very wonderful adaptation. Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite classic film.