Cast­ing a new spell

Herald Sun - - NEWS -

FIRST NIGHT THE WIZ­ARD OF OZ STEPHANIE GLICKMAN

THE yel­low brick road has rolled into Mel­bourne for this pop­u­lar ver­sion of The Wiz­ard of Oz that has been tour­ing Aus­tralia since last year.

It’s a re­cently con­ceived ver­sion that pre­miered in Lon­don in 2011 and fea­tures new songs by Sir An­drew Lloyd Web­ber and Tim Rice.

While clas­sics like Fol­low the Yel­low Brick Road and Over The Rain­bow stand­out, what is most mem­o­rable here is the eye-pop­ping set by Robert Jones that com­bines video (by Jon Driscoll) with three-di­men­sional struc­tures to cre­ate a very dy­namic jour­ney through the dreary browns of Kansas, to the blues of the Munchkin­land to the green glow of Emer­ald City.

An over­ar­ch­ing rain­bow with chang­ing colours and ever-shift­ing con­struc­tions of flow­ers, clocks and forests make for lots to marvel at in this fa­mil­iar tale that stays on script to L. Frank Baum’s story.

While some will ar­gue that the show’s real stars are looka­like ter­ri­ers Flick and Trou­ble shar­ing the role of Toto, the hu­mans are just as good, al- though pos­si­bly not as cute.

Jemma Rix amps up her nasty Wicked Witch to de­light­fully shrill lev­els.

Lucy Du­rack brings a splash of sass to the sac­cha­rine Good Witch while up-and-comer Sa­man­tha Dode­maide as Dorothy is a steady lead, build­ing emo­tion as her jour­ney be­comes more com­plex.

Vet­eran An­thony War­low holds down Pro­fes­sor Marvel/ Wiz­ard with pol­ished aplomb and Eli Cooper, Alex Rathge­ber and John Xin­tavelo­nis have heaps of fun with the foibles of Scare­crow, Tin Man and Lion re­spec­tively.

The two one-hour acts am­ble along at a tight pace that chil­dren, es­pe­cially, can stay en­gaged. Big­ger en­sem­ble dance num­bers in Munchkin­land and the gates of Oz in­ter­ject good old raz­zle daz­zle.

The Wiz­ard of Oz is solid, and ticks all the boxes of mu­si­cal the­atre. It’s by-the-num­bers ap­proach can some­times ren­der it over­stylised, but the cre­ators have wisely opted for the tried and true.

Con­sid­er­ing the show’s orig­i­nal song book (by Arlen and Har­burg) is so eter­nal and the con­tem­po­rary vi­su­als are magic unto them­selves, this show’s au­di­ences will wind their way to the wiz­ard.

The cast of The Wiz­ard of Oz at the Re­gent The­atre; and (be­low left) Si­mone Cal­la­han last night. Pic­tures: JAKE NOWAKOWSKI, JA­SON ED­WARDS

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