The Wizard of Oz is at the Straz Center

National Touring Production of the Wizard of Oz.You might find something new about the beloved classic finishing its tour in Florida this month. No, I don’t mean Dorothy’s dungarees – although I loved that addition, because who works on a farm in a dress and petticoat??! I meant the show’s name. It’s now Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Wizard of Oz”. The new stage adaptation includes new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. The tour I saw starred Sarah Lasko as Dorothy, and she was adorable with a showstopping voice. She truly sounded like an effortless Broadway talent through the whole show. The only part of the show better than Sarah was the powerful orchestra. Sometimes I hear the start of an overture in my theatre seat and get carried off into the show, but when I heard the first notes at “The Wizard of Oz”, I took stock and noticed how full and rich the sound was. It held throughout the show with emotion and power, and also cute added sound affects.

Back to Dorothy’s pants… not only are they practical for a girl on a farm, they’re kind of taupe. In fact, much of the first few scenes has the color notes of a dusty Kansas plain. This echoes the opening and closing credits as well as the Kansas sequences from the film. Just like the color parts of the movie astounded viewers when it first aired on television, audiences will love when colors and flowers and rainbows brighten the stage production.

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ozOne of the new lyrics of the show is “mainly magic, slightly science,” and that’s what this hopeful, wondrous musical is made of. It has love and laughter, a little touch of evil, fairy dust, magic wishes – with a message and musical score great for all ages to enjoy. There were many little girls of kindergarten age around me in sparkly, red shoes enjoying the show and the special affects. They were so proud of themselves when they knew the set was moving or that the lighting was coming from above and behind them. They seemed more afraid of the storm than the witch – I think Glinda was the alpha-witch in this version.

Basically, the only people I think who won’t enjoy this show are those who really hate the movie. And I’m not sure those people exist. Most people sat like me, riveted, singing along in their heads (I could tell by the head bopping), and knowing exactly what was going to come next. It was slightly more modern, more obviously gay friendly, had people laughing out loud, and caught even diehard fans by surprise at times. Although the stage show does not follow the movie exactly, the only part I really missed and wished I had heard was this little tune. (And I was surprised the flying monkeys weren’t carried away on a wire.)

Before you take your littles, you can prep them with coloring pages from the Oz tour website, and watch clips from the show here:

Don’t ease on down for tickets – get a move on! “The Wizard of Oz” is ending its North American tour for 2016 in Tampa – and it’s at the Straz just through July 17.

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