Saturday, September 22, 2012

'The Wizard of Oz' - colourful and sparkly

This show was not at the top of my list of things to see but I did want to see it and hurriedly booked my ticket when I found out the production was closing.

The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium
Performance: Sunday 29th July 2012 at 15:00
Seat: Front stalls, right
Cast included: Des O'Connor (the Wizard), Sophie Evans (Dorothy), Paul Keating (Scarecrow), Terel Nugent (Tin Man, u/s), Martin Callaghan (Cowardly Lion), Emily Tierney (Glinda), Marianne Benedict (Wicked Witch of the West)

The story is, for those unfamiliar with this new stage production, the same as in the original musical film from 1939 and the music from that film has been retained also. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice have teamed up to add some new music. I fell in love with one of these new tracks, Already Home, from the end of the show. It is a very simple track but there was something profoundly sweet about Glinda singing it and Dorothy and the rest of the company joining in.
I must say Sophie did an excellent job as Dorothy. I did love the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion too: it was funny watching the actors play these parts. Sometimes when you see people play characters that are not supposed to move in exactly the same way as humans do, you aren't perhaps quite convinced as moving like an animal (or as if you didn't have a brain or something) is not necessarily the easiest thing to do. However, Paul, Terel and Martin definitely managed to convince me with their portrayals.
One of the stars of the show was, of course, Dorothy's dog Toto, who was played by a real Westie; a very well-behaved one too.

Danielle Hope as Dorothy (Source)
I absolutely loved Emily and Marianne as the Good and the Wicked Witches respectively with their gorgeous voices. They would float above the stage with the Wicked Witch even coming down from a trap door in the ceiling of the auditorium once (this seriously scared me but surely that's understandable: it's not like you have a live green witch hanging above your head on a broomstick every day). The Wicked Witch's broom spat out fire on a few occasions and where I was sitting you could actually feel the wave of heat caused by it. Things like that look magnificent live on stage. The show was visually attractive with lots of colour and these... can you call them 'special effects'? A honorary mention goes to Glinda's dress. I should have thought that the cast would have become blind after looking at it under the stage lights for a few months, eight shows a week. I can honestly say I have never seen a more sparkly dress. 

Emily Tierney as Glinda. An idea of the dress, doesn't look as sparkly in the photo though. (Source)

What amuses me about The Wizard of Oz in general is that the Wizard is one of the main characters and is always credited as such as he is vital to the plot but the amount of time he is actually on stage is next to nothing compared to many of the other characters. So when people asked me afterwards: "How was Des O'Connor as the Wizard", I felt I had to reply that he was good but that I didn't feel I could really review him as such because he wasn't really in it.
And speaking of funny/peculiar things to do with The Wizard of Oz, do read this blog entry if you haven't already: 5 Reasons The Greatest Movie Villain Ever is a 'Good' Witch . Sharply written and actually very accurate when you think about it, how Glinda is actually the bad one in the film.

Anyway, I did enjoy the show. It was much better and more impressive than I had expected it to be. I would not have taken very young children to see it though because there are scary bits and bits that make you jump. It is still a family show though and I cannot imagine teenagers and adults going to see the show over and over   so maybe in that respect it isn't surprising it only ran for a year and a half. 

This is the track I mentioned earlier, Already Home:

Also Red Shoes Blues sung by the Wicked Witch is well worth a listen. Sung by the incredible Hannah Waddingham:

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