Practically everyone knows The Wizard of Oz front to back. Sources say it is the most widely viewed movie of all time, even more than Gone with the Wind, Star Wars, and most Disney films. Going in to the visiting Broadway Grand Rapids presentation, audiences may be hesitant to go as it will not be able to equal the movie which everyone has grown up seeing. Well, this show really comes close to that.
All the classic characters are present here. Dorothy is perky as ever with a tad more rural quality to her voice and mannerisms than the quintessential Judy Garland. The Wicked Witch is slightly more personable with a dry sense of wicked humor, not quite to Stephen Schwartz’ Wicked levels, but more so than the classic film. The Scarecrow still hobbles around daintily, the Tin Man still looks solidly built and acts equally powerful, and the Lion is amusingly wimpy with moments of clear bravery hidden here and there. The Wizard is portrayed properly too, from his booming maleficence in his Act I appearances to his revealed self all pompous, but bumbling persona in Act 2. Rounding out the cast are Glinda the Good Witch, as well as slightly taller versions of the Munchkins, and the Winkies, the Wicked Witch’s guards alongside her ferocious flying monkeys.
Design-wise, this show brings whimsical perfection. The practically sepia Kansas sets are economically proportioned and there are plenty of little touches that reinforce a sense of rural struggle. Once the setting moves to Oz, the colors explode off the stage and the locales come to life in ways expected from an Oz adaptation. The show makes use of many technological effects such as the iconic twister that whisks Dorothy and Toto to Oz as well as a journey through the woods to the Wicked Witch’s lair at the top of Act II. Technically, the show proves to be impressive in all aspects.
The costume designer paid attention to details in creativity and color. The Manager of the production had local ties. He graduated from Rockford High School and majored in Theater production.
This season at Broadway Grand Rapids has been exceptionally lively and The Wizard of Oz proved to be the proverbial cherry on top of a delicious season of shows provided. The entire production was a wonderful treat along the yellow brick road with Dorothy, Toto, and all the other wonderful denizens of Oz.
Check out the incredible season that will be offered for 2014-1015 theater season with Broadway GR at their website http://www.broadwaygrandrapids.com/