Thursday September 26, 2013 / 7:30pmThe Wizard of Oz
Price Level 2
How was your experience?
Pardon any immodesty, but I am a professional director, writer, and actor, so I am not sure if my personal opinions would represent what the masses of people would probably derive from ALW's current touring production of "The Wizard of Oz." How could anyone NOT like a production of "The Wizard of Oz"? But, personally speaking, I expected a lot more from this show for the price that I had to pay. The cast was ALL first rate, and there were no disappointments with any of the performances. I even saw an understudy for Dorothy, and I couldn't have imagined anyone better. Where this production fell short for me was in the ONE area that I thought for sure would be spectacular.......and that was in the technical and special effects. I have directed and also seen many prior productions of OZ. I saw one twenty-five years ago with Cathy Rigby at the Long Beach Civic Light Opera and even that one, a quarter of a century ago, had much better special effects. I remember in that one that the actual wicked witch and the actual Kansas barn all flew in the air with invisible wiring like is used in "Peter Pan". It was thrilling to see Miss Gulch riding on her bicycle high above the proscenium arch only to have her bike turn into a broomstick and her riding attire turn into the witch's back cape. I expected similar LIVE things from this show I saw last week. But I got none of that. Almost every special effect was simply projected on to a scrim where the effect was filmed (like in the movie). If I wanted to see a "filmed" version of "The Wizard of Oz", I would simply have watched the MGM version, which is, of course, unmatchable. Almost every special effect in this production was filmed and not live, from the twister in Kansas to the flying Winkies. All just projected on to a screen. I thought it was a bit shameful to do that with the high admissions they were charging. I appreciate the artistry that went into the filming and the computer graphic etc., but come ON, this is supposed to be LIVE, and with the amount of talented artists and designers out there, they could have easily awed us in three dimensions without just a flat screen. Nevertheless, as I originally said, for people who didn't know any better or hadn't seen any other productions and didn't know what to compare it to, very few in the audience were disappointed. And, to be fair to the show's credit, although the added songs were mostly forgettable to me (except the last pretty one about "Home Is Where The Heart Is" or something), they did something in the final scene, in the last seconds of the show, when Dorothy is back in Kansas that really touched me quite a bit and had me walking out awed! I just wish I had had more of those feelings for the price I had to pay.