I don’t know many people who have never watched the iconic Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film version of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Judging by Tuesday’s opening-night audience for the 2017-18 National Tour of The Wizard of Oz, co-presented March 13-18 by Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre, it is still a well-loved story by young and old.
Young, energetic Dorothy Gale and sole companion dog Toto find themselves running away from trouble, a mean meddling neighbor, and home. Dorothy runs into a drifting fortune teller on her way out of town who convinces her to go back home. When a twister crosses her path, she is sent into a strange land of Munchkins, Witches, and Wizards. After making friends along the way, she is faced with yet again trying to return home. Using the magic already inside her, she realizes “There is no place like home.”
The film version of The Wizard of Oz was legendary for the use of Technicolor. The current stage production also carefully delights the senses. With aerographic effects from ZFX, the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium audience is able to see the subtle things, such as the sky darkening before the twister, and the magic of the Wicked Witch and Wizard. These effects helped to make the show more sensory friendly. Preshow, NCT and BSS also provide a social narrative to make young children and people with disabilities to be more comfortable.
Tour director Dean Sobon with Apex Touring keeps the characters pretty true to the movie version. Kalie Kaimann channeled the spirit and speaking voice of Judy Garland. Unfortunately, the most iconic song of “(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow” was in a key too low for her, making it mostly inaudible.
Dorothy’s faithful friends Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion were also true to their previous iconic actors. Victor Legarreta (Lion) has the most wonderful singing voice and shares the fun spirit of Bert Lahr, who originally portrayed the Cowardly Lion. Chris Duir (Scarecrow) has the agility and mannerisms of Ray Bolger, and the facial expressions of Christopher Russell (Tinman) are just as expressive as those Jack Haley.
Long before the evil green one defied gravity, The Wicked Witch of the West was plotting revenge in The Wizard of Oz. She has always been my favorite character, and Emily Perzan does not disappoint. I wish that Ashleigh Thompson had portrayed Glinda the Good Witch a little more like the film version, instead of like the Glinda in the other Broadway show based on The Wizard of Oz.
The real star of the 2017-18 National Tour is Murphy, the rescued Brussels Griffon/Cairn Terrier mix dog that plays Toto. It is extremely hard to work with animals during a live show. Music director and owner Lizzie Webb has done a fantastic job of training Murphy.
There were a few picky things. Most of the music appeared to be canned (as in not live). This is unfortunate, and sometimes is distracting. Although there is an orchestra, it is extremely small, consisting of only five musicians. They are more than capable of performing solo without the additional amplified sound.
The Tinman had a few tap-dance numbers, which he performed wearing jazz shoes, instead of tap shoes. This would have been fine if the audience had not heard audible tapping, especially when the sound did not always match the movement.
Overall, this touring production of The Wizard of Oz is exactly what you would expect from the movie. There were no surprise additions, and all of your favorite characters were there. I’m glad that the musical number “The Jitterbug” was kept in the show. It was originally in the movie version, but was cut from the final edit. The choreography by Amy Marie McCleary is lively and entertaining; and the Ensemble, who perform multiple roles, executes them flawlessly.
If you love The Wizard of Oz, you should grab the kids, grandkids, and family and take them to this wholesome family favorite. The show runs a little long — about 2 hours 45 minutes — but there is a 15-minute intermission.
SECOND OPINION: March 14th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh review by Jeffrey Kare: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Review-THE-WIZARD-OF-OZ-National-Tour-at-North-Carolina-Theatre-20180314; and March 7th and 12th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-previews by Byron Woods: https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-wizard-of-oz/Event?oid=8648561 and https://www.indyweek.com/arts/archives/2018/03/12/a-cast-of-young-new-york-actors-pumps-fresh-blood-into-the-classic-wizard-of-oz. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the March 13th Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2018/03/the-wizard-of-oz-playing-on-march-13-18-at-raleigh-memorial-auditorium-celebrates-the-1939-mgm-film/.)
Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre present THE WIZARD OF OZ at 7:30 p.m. March 14-16 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. March 17 and 18 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $23-$113, except click here for $25 college student tickets.
Duke Energy Center Box Office: 919-996-8700 or firstname.lastname@example.org (information only).
BSS GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 996-8719, email@example.com, or http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/broadway-series-south/group-sales.
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
NCT GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 6949; firstname.lastname@example.org; or http://nctheatre.com/groups.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or https://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/887597.
SHOW: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/wizard-of-oz-8226, https://nctheatre.com/shows/wizard-oz, and https://www.facebook.com/events/294642864336198/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre/videos/10159991717315187/.
THE TOUR: https://wizardofoztour.com/, https://www.facebook.com/WizardofOzTour/, and http://twitter.com/yellowbrickroad.
TOUR CAST: https://wizardofoztour.com/cast/.
TOUR CREATIVE TEAM: https://wizardofoztour.com/creative-team/.
Broadway Series South: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/broadway-series-south, https://www.facebook.com/broadwayseriessouthraleigh, and https://twitter.com/BroadwaySouth.
2018 BSS SEASON: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/broadway-series-south.
North Carolina Theatre: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
2017-18 NCT SEASON: https://nctheatre.com/show-season/201718-season.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, March 17th, performance.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900 novel): http://thewizardofoz.info/ (fan site by Eric P. Gjovaag) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wonderful_Wizard_of_Oz (Wikipedia).
The Novel: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=rbc3&fileName=rbc0001_2006gen32405page.db&recNum=0 (Library of Congress online facsimile edition).
L. Frank Baum (novelist, 1856-1919): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/l-frank-baum-7118 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000875/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._Frank_Baum (Wikipedia).
The Wizard of Oz (1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical-fantasy film): http://thewizardofoz.warnerbros.com/ (official website), http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/852/The-Wizard-of-Oz/ (TCM Movie Database), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032138/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wizard_of_Oz_%281939_film%29 (Wikipedia).
Harold Arlen (music, 1905-86): http://www.haroldarlen.com/home.html (official website), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002182/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/harold-arlen-11319 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Arlen (Wikipedia).
E.Y. “Yip” Harburg (lyrics, 1896-1981): http://www.yipharburg.com/ (Yip Harburg Foundation), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0361971/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/yip-harburg-24450 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yip_Harburg (Wikipedia).
Herbert Stothart (incidental music, 1885-1949): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006307/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/herbert-stothart-83366 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Stothart (Wikipedia).
Noel Langley (screenwriter, 1911-80): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0486538/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/noel-langley-3852 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noel_Langley (Wikipedia).
Florence Ryerson (screenwriter, 1892-1965): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0753249/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/florence-ryerson-5538 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Ryerson (Wikipedia).
Edgar Allan Woolf (screenwriter, 1881-1943) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0941138/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/edgar-allan-woolf-5207 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Allan_Woolf (Wikipedia).
The Wizard of Oz (1987 Royal Shakespeare Company musical version): https://www.wizardofozthemusical.com/ (official website), http://www.tamswitmark.com/shows/wizard-oz-r-s-c-1987/ (Tams-Witmark Music Library, Inc.), http://www.guidetomusicaltheatre.com/shows_w/wizardoz_rsc.htm (The Guide to Musical Theatre), http://facebook.com/wizardofozthemusical (Facebook page), and http://twitter.com/yellowbrickroad (Twitter page). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wizard_of_Oz_(1987_musical) (Wikipedia), and http://www.youtube.com/user/wizardofozthemusical (YouTube).
John Kane (Dundee, Angus, Scotland-born playwright and screenwriter): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/john-kane-73029 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0437353/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kane_(writer) (Wikipedia).
Robert Johanson (adapter): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/robert-johanson-15227 (Internet Broadway Database).
Shannon Plummer-White is no stranger to the stage! She studied Musical Theater & Opera at the American Musical Dramatic Academy in New York City, and has appeared in films such as Iron Man 3 and Safe Haven. She has also performed with the North Carolina Master Chorale and the North Carolina Symphony. When she isn’t on stage or making magic behind the scenes, she can be found in the art studio playing with fire and molten glass. She is an animal advocate with a special love of cats. She has four rescued fur children and a very supportive husband. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.