In the land of Oz anything is possible, as the Royal Shakespeare Company reminded Fox Theatre goers November 26-28 with their wonderful stage adaptation of the MGM film classic, The Wizard of Oz. Although L. Frank Baum's novel made its screen debut over seven decades ago, The Wizard of Oz remains a timeless and impressive piece of cinema. Laden with elaborate sets, brilliant costumes, and catchy tunes, Oz quickly became a household favorite that continues to be passed down from generation to generation. Equally as brilliant and elaborate, The Fox Theatre welcomed hundreds of people, young and old, last weekend proving yet again how many feel connected to this classic tale.
Capturing the magical sights and sounds of Oz, Set Designer Tim McQuillen-Wright along with Lighting Designer Paul Miller and Sound Designer Shannon Slaton recreate the brilliant feel produced by the film version, splashing the stage with colorful costumes and backdrops. Most impressive are the use of projections, created by Second Home Productions, to produce the intense tornado and dream sequences. In fact, Saturday evening's performance received a roar of applause after Dorothy and her house travelled through the infamous funnel cloud and landed on the heels of the Wicked Witch of the East.
Orchestrating this larger than life story is Director Nigel West, whose commitment to making the theatrical version of The Wizard of Oz as authentic for its traditional film followers as possible is evident throughout the two hour and fifteen minute production. Bringing these iconic characters to life was an impressive group of actors, including Andrew Haserlat as thoughtful yet brainless Scarecrow, Beau Hutchings as the loving yet heartless Tinman, and Jesse Colman as the dependable yet cowardly Lion. Leading this needy trio is Dorothy, the little farm girl from Kansas whose dreams of escaping somewhere over the rainbow landed her in a place where trees talk and monkey's fly. Playing Dorothy, actress Katherine Bristol brilliantly aligns her performance with that of a young Judy Garland without casting a shadow over her own musical talent.
Much like the film version, the stage adaptation of Oz is ultimately stolen by the unforgettable cackle and high pitched voice of the dark and sinister Wicked Witch of the West, played in this production by Pat Sibley. Sibley embodies wickedness to perfection while simultaneously offering several moments of brilliant sarcasm and comedy.
What makes the stage version of The Wizard of Oz so fantastic is its ability to deliver the same nostalgic feeling most experience when watching the story on screen, and then some. No matter your age or gender, to see these character in the flesh (including the world-famous terrier Toto) and sing along with them was unequivocally brilliant.