Slip on your ruby slippers, oil up your rusty joints, and pay no attention to the 30 plus men, women, and children behind the curtain. It’s time for a joyous fun filled musical production of The Wizard of Oz!
This is the story of Kansas farm girl Dorothy (Lila Digrazia) who spends her days playing with her dog Toto (Scamp). When Toto bites the ankle of the cruel and wealthy Mrs Gulch (Keyanna Burgher), it looks like it might be the end for the cheeky pooch. Dorothy and Toto run away from home and take shelter in a farmhouse right as a devastating tornado hits the countryside. The tornado carries the house far, far away dropping it down on Munchkinland in the land of Oz!
To find her way home, Dorothy must seek out the Wizard of Oz (Jason Fabbri) who rules over the land with smoke and mirrors. Along the way Dorothy will make friends with the Scarecrow (Kael Serin-D’Alterio), the Tin Man (Ashley Wilsnach) and of course the Cowardly Lion (Leigh Roncon). Her three somewhat familiar friends join Dorothy on her epic quest through thick and thin. All the while being tracked by the nefarious Wicked Witch of the West (also played by Burgher) who seeks ultimate power to enslave Oz. All she needs is to obtain Dorothy‘s new ruby slippers by any means necessary!
What can be said about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz which hasn’t been said before? This musical is based on L. Frank Baum‘s beloved 1900 famous novel and the, if possible, even more beloved MGM motion picture from 1939. While there have been many reinterpretations of Baum‘s timeless children’s fantasy tale, none are more iconic than the Technicolour classic. Following the success of the production of Green Day’s American Idiot the acclaimed Theatrical. is bringing us this beloved story as a high energy, spectacular night out!
As someone familiar with the classic film, I was unsure just how close or far director Kim Anderson’s vision would be. The show features a fascinating steampunk inspired take on the story while still remaining an authentic recreation of the story we all know and love. The story, the characters and yes, all the songs we’ve cherished for generations are here and are performed with incredible style and toe-tapping enthusiasm.
Theatrical. is a theatre company which lovingly specialises in offering opportunities to those who have a passion for the stage yet have not had the privilege of access. The show has a charmingly off-Broadway feel to it but please don’t get me wrong, this is one of the most amazing stage musicals I’ve ever had the joy to witness.
For one, the sheer number of stunning costumes and sets in this production is mind blowing. The ensemble cast change costumes multiple times throughout the show with such rapidity, I had wondered just how hectic things are backstage! Although some sequences take longer to change over than others, they are all well worth the wait, such as the ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ scenes being a science fiction extravaganza with lasers, smoke, projection and more!
Digrazia was amazing front and centre of much of the show in her role as Dorothy. Truly a triple threat as she sings, dances, and acts her way into your heart. In what is the first of many brilliant musical numbers, her performance of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ is just as powerful as when Judy Garland made the song famous.
Burgher’s dual performances as both the witch and Mrs Gulch are just as amazing with the actor exploding onto the stage for every act of wickedness. With a cackle and a voice which terrifies and amazes in equal measure.
Also in dual performances are Serin-D’Alterio, Wilsnach, and Roncon as both Dorothy‘s friends back in Kansas as well as her new friends in Oz. Even having seen the movie and knowing these characters, I was bursting with anticipation to see them introduced. Each actor had their own whimsical take on these iconic characters that thoroughly impressed, to the point where it’s hard to choose a favourite. If I had to choose however, my personal favourite would have to be Serin-D’Alterio‘s Scarecrow with an especially physical performance including tumbles and rolls, even within musical numbers!
Special mention also needs to go to rescue dog Scamp making his stage debut as Toto! There were some opening night jitters from Scamp but that didn’t stop the pup from stealing every scene he was in!
Of course, with such a large cast I would be here forever to list all of them but I feel everyone was pitch perfect. Even minor characters by the younger cast mates like Nikko the Flying Monkey (Matteo Maxwell) and the Lullaby League (Alyssia Jade, Melissa Honarvar, and Mathilda Kwok) get their moments to shine!
The dance numbers reached epic proportions and, at times, particularly with such an extensive cast on stage at once, still succeeded in providing an authentic feeling Oz experience. Choreographer Kat Wallace deserves much praise for her achievements.
The full orchestra, with musical direction by Bronte Regos Thiele, brought all the grandeur of a massive Hollywood production to the National Theatre. With just as many, if not more, musicians under the stage as on it, they collectively had me bopping along to all the songs. I think my favourite would be ‘The Jitterbug’, a jazzy little number criminally removed from the original film but included here in all its glory.
Theatrical.’s production of The Wizard of Oz is a hands down brilliant achievement in musical theatre. A treasured classic for the entire family which had me grinning from ear to ear, from start to finish. Click your heels together three times, follow the Saint Kilda Road and get out to see this show at The National Theatre before it blows away!
The Wizard of Oz is currently playing at The National Theatre in a strictly limited season until the 9th of July.
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Photography by Nicole Cleary.