Wiz of a ballet
A classic cast of characters from a muchloved children’s book are about to descend on the city. Flying monkeys and Munchkins, witches, a scarecrow, a lion, a tin man, a wizard, and a pair of ruby slippers.
Based on the famous tale by L Frank Baum, The Royal New Zealand Ballet is bringing the world premiere season of Francesco Ventriglia ‘s The Wizard of Oz to the Regent on Broadway tomorrow night.
Francesco, now the ballet company’s artistic director says he originally intended The Wizard of Oz to be a one-act ballet. Then the artistic director of Italy’s Maggio Danza, Francesco reworked the choreography over five years into two acts. In 2013, it was to be performed at the opera house in Florence to a musical score by French composer Francis Poulenc.
The night before the premiere, the theatre ceiling dramatically collapsed and the opera house was forced to close for repairs.
The show’s costumes were packed away, the set was put into storage and the ruby slippers were never given their moment on stage. Until now.
Created in Italy by ‘‘superstar designer’’ Gianluca Falaschi, the set and costumes at last are making their appearance in a country half way around the world.
The Oz that the Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers inhabit is quite fantastical. Not only do Munchkins appear in 1930s bathing suits, the good witch has a butterfly-gown, while the Wicked Witch of the West wears haute couture. The monkeys have a whirling dervish streak and there are showers of green sequins, red glitter and gingham.
Then there are other twists on the characters – the Lion becomes a tattooed hipster, the Tin Man has a steam punk shine, and the Scarecrow is put together with patchwork grunge.
Every role in the ballet was written in the book Francesco says, including the the Porcelain Kingdom dancers, inspired by the collection of Gianluca’s grandmother. His gran’s era also inspired the 1920s swing dresses.
‘‘I thought of this world like I was a child. It’s the way a child in a hospital bed is viewing the world,’’ Gianluca says.
Reviewers have rated the show a ‘Wow’ and ‘Splendido’.
The Royal New Zealand Ballet performs its ‘‘sell out’’ season of The Wizard of Oz tomorrow June 9 at 7.30pm
Dorothy and her three Wizard Of Oz companions from the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company production, from left, Loughlan Prior as Scarecrow, Massimo Margaria as Tin Man, Jacob Chown as Lion and Lucy Green as Dorothy.