Article Title:If Ever a Whever a Wiz There Was...
Author or Credit:Nykki Porteous
Published on:29th September 2011 - 11:01 am
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Story ID:10854
Text:I was so pissed when my husband told me he got tickets to go see the Wizard of Oz at the Civic. I know, what gratitude. But seriously! It is an iconic show beloved of generations that WAS NOT DESIGNED FOR THE STAGE. What if they effed it up and ruined Thanksgiving for me forever? (Generations of American kids grew up eating too much on the third Thursday of November and then being plonked in front of the TV where public access channels all over the country played Wizard of Oz while the growed ups played poker.) The most iconic movie in the world, that was not directed by James Cameron, came to the stage of the Civic on Sept 17th, 2011. I was there. Front and centre. Trepidatious. Watching the stars whirl overhead and silently cursing my husband for possibly ruining one of my favourite memories. THEY HAD A REAL LIVE PIG ON STAGE! It was fantastic, I'm so glad my husband made me go, and a little embarrassed that I whined before the show. So...details. You will have to go online to get some of them, because I couldn't beg, borrow or steal a program and I sure as hell wasn't going to buy one. These Are a Few of My Favourite Things (wrong musical, I know.) The sound of awestruck children and the dozens of comments on my fabulous new shoes were definitely the best part of the evening. It's ironic really, as my feet hurt and I and think children should be left in a drawer. The sets! My biggest fear was the director failing to bring the wonderful land of Oz to life on stage. But the sets were spectacular. Simple, yet thoughtful enough to be provoking. With the correct use of timing, lighting and the full, gorgeous sound of the symphony (props to the conductor!) ... the sets helped to bring out every emotion. They showed some genius too. A fixed back drop of rolling hills that characters could walk or bicycle through gave Kansas and Oz some grandeur and scope. (Can't you just hear the music when that old hag Ms. Gulch rides into the farm with that basket? duh duh duh duh duh duh) Movable props stage front defined the scenes. With a 'twist twist here, and a snip snip there" the hands were able to make the farm into the woods, the woods into the witch's castle, and back again. All separate, distinct and subtly believable. We were a little disappointed with the City of Oz, but everything else was lovely. And the tornado. The music was rising, the wind was blowing. Dorothy was fighting the gale, but it was just too much! It threw her around, spinning, jerking, jumping. The strings in the orchestra pit howled and the tornado raged on. Onto a black back drop with spinning lights, swirling round and round, cows flying and that old hag (cue: duh duh duh duh duh duh) until. Silence. The curtain rose, and so did Dorothy to a jumble of colour and little people! Sigh. It was really spectacular with the girls behind me gasping first in horror (tornado) and then in glee (Munchkins). So, I liked the sets, the tornado and the Munchkins. And the Chorus! In the tradition of Greek theatre, a Chorus was used to pull together disparagate parts of the story. A campy queen and smoking hot chick played the parts off of each other to perfection and groan producing puns. Crow, tree, hairdresser... there was a memorable place for them in each scene. Brava! The Wicked Witch. Wow that woman could manipulate the muscles on her face! The cackle was perfect, the voice was incredible and I loved every moment she was on stage. Either as Ms. Gulch or the Witch. Though, the green gloves on her hands were a different shade of green to her face. That bugged the hell out of me. Did I mention the pig? Oh yeah, Toto was real too. I was impressed with the foresight shown in getting him offstage during the more chaotic dance numbers. And Dorothy was brilliant at keeping him engaged. Dorothy was very believable as a naive girl. Strong but innocent. She carried her part well and true through the whole production. Beautiful voice, incredible dancer - but I personally don't like tremolo. Especially in songs about rainbows. Neither Kermit nor Dorothy should have a vibrato. C'est la vie. The first performance that really struck me was of the professor in Kansas. You know, the travelling mystic who tells Dorothy to go back home? He was spectacular and brought tears to my eyes while convincing Dorothy that her place lied with her family. Though I think he got quietly drunk during intermission or something because he flubbed all of the lines as the Wizard. "And I'll give you a heart for courage. And you, you take this diploma for a heart or something." (I was totally paraphrasing there, but it was pretty bad.) And the lion. Wow, he roared. My husband tells me that he's an iconic Kiwi actor. He had me laughing hysterically. Actually, all of the supporting cast was hysterical. Tin Man's timing was impeccable and the Scarecrow's movement? The blocking and choreography were fantastic, but boy that man could move. Things that I didn't love so much... the family of people who would not get up at intermission and made a line of about thirty people scooch past all eight of them. Twice. How rude. Also, the end. It was long, long, long and sorta boring. Truth be told though, it was long and boring in the book and movie too! We came out of the showing to a sea of green and yellow (Ireland had just beaten the Wallabies) and had a few at Starks while gushing about how happy I was that hubby brought me back to my childhood. Then he told me that Starks was named after a stripper who performed there in the 30's, we looked at a picture of her boobs and went to K'Rd to play. A great night filled with stars and my many thanks for the show. Nykki Porteous - 29th September 2011    
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