I was invited to attend a "Blogger Night" for Andrew Lloyd Webber's new production of The Wizard of Oz at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota.
I will tell you that this show is a DELIGHT!
After watching The Sound of Music Live on TV the previous evening, I couldn't help but make comparisons. Carrie Underwood (as Maria) was discovered on the "American Idol" reality show. Danielle Wade (as Dorothy) was chosen by the Canadian public on CBC TV's reality show "Over the Rainbow". Two iconic movies with two beloved stars were being re-imagined for today's audience. Would it work?
While I was glad that I watched The Sound of Music, I was left with the thought that Carrie Underwood tried hard and did a respectable job. Would I ever want to watch that version again and make it a holiday tradition? No. Was I happy that I didn't watch it live and could fast forward through the slow parts? Absolutely! In my opinion the movie version of The Sound of Music was far superior, so it was with some trepidation that I set out to review a stage production of The Wizard of Oz...
Danielle Wade as "Dorothy"
Where Carrie Underwood may have been miscast as Maria, the Canadian public absolutely got it right...Danielle Wade is a marvelous Dorothy! Her vocal inflections remind you of Judy Garland, she has a beautiful singing voice and she is very likeable to boot. While you can't help but make comparisons to the 1939 MGM movie version, this show is extremely well cast right down the line (and doesn't make you pine for the original performers).
Jacquelyn Piro Donovan as "The Wicked Witch of the West"
The sets are colorful and visually stimulating and the special effects are very well done. I would also like to note that the orchestra was absolutely terrific! They played with dynamics, but did not overpower/drown out the vocalists as is sometimes the case. There were many children in the audience and they were spell-bound by the production. There are a couple of scary moments, but if your child can handle the movie version, they will be fine seeing this production (and will likely prefer it).
Jamie McKnight as "The Scarecrow"
I can recommend this show without qualifications! It is well-paced and doesn't leave you watching the clock. It 100% held my attention and didn't feel long at all. (The show runs about two hours and 20 minutes including the intermission.)
The Wizard of Oz runs through December 29, 2013, at the Ordway:
- Tuesday-Sunday at 7:30 PM
- Matinee shows at 2:00 PM every Friday, Saturday and Sunday
I encourage you to join Dorothy on the yellow brick
road for a magical journey to Oz this holiday season!
345 Washington Street
St. Paul, MN 55102
Ticket Office: 651.224.4222
I would like to thank the Ordway for providing these tickets. A positive review was not required, but I am happy to give it!!!