Short and Sweet critic Beth Kahan reviews 'Wizard of Oz' with Diana Martinez
The "Great and Powerful" "Wizard of Oz" is better than ever
The updated new Andrew Lloyd-Weber version of the "Wizard of Oz" is brilliantly re-created for a modern day, post-Wicked audience, sprinkling in video projections that are calculated, magical and hark to the silver screen classic. Fear not, all of your favorite classic lines and characters anchor the production, complete with a few new songs, and twists. Thanks to Sir Lloyd-Weber a full live-orchestra beautifully performs the score. The Wicked Witch of the West is just as nasty and just as green as you remember, but she now has a clever and witty sense of humor, and a new green form fitting green dress, that makes her a little less terrifying for the little ones, and a lot more entertaining for the adults in the audience.
The role of Dorothy is played by Danielle Wade, who won her role through a Canadian television reality show "Over the Rainbow." The television audience chose right. She has a gorgeous velvety voice that's easy to listen to, but she also has spunk and rebellion that truly anchors her character and adds depth to the role. Jamie McKnight has a few added jokes that highlight his natural comic timing as the Scarecrow, Mike Jackson has an added soft-shoe patter section that works great for the Tin Man, and Lee MacDougall, who plays the Cowardly Lion is equally wonderful. All three shine in their supporting roles and have added new levels to each of their characters. I'd be remiss not to mention Nigel, who stoically plays Toto perfectly on cue.
The production values and concepts in the show are strategically executed, giving us a very realistic and warm Midwestern set for the first scene and then transitions via a video and lighting effect twister, which is so impressive, it got its own applause on opening night. We land in a bright and theatrical Oz, where the costumes are impressive and bravely venture away from the classic garb, bringing a new and fresh twist. Glinda's dress literally covers the entire stage on her dramatic descent into Oz, Dorothy's dress magically transforms on stage to green, the Cowardly Lion is a lot svelter and the Munchkins are a full-sized bunch.
What really resonated with me is how well this show translates to every audience member, young or old, male or female. There truly is something for everyone, at every level. I looked around the audience at one point, and it was fascinating to see everyone riveted by what was happening on stage. The production does a fantastic job adding in a bit more humor and keeping things moving along. If you have kids, this is "a must see." It's simply a beautiful show and perfect for the entire family or anyone who has a sentimental place in their heart for that magical place "Over the Rainbow."
The show runs about 2 hours and 20 minutes and is appropriate for children ages 5 years old and up. It is now playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through May 11 only. For tickets visit www.broadwayinchicago.com.