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The Wizard of Oz

When my mom told me she had bought tickets to see Wizard of Oz off-Broadway, I was immensely excited, especially because my older brother was one of the major music producers, but upon viewing the show I was left disappointed. First of all, prior to the start of the show, we were informed by the director that the title of the musical was misleading; this show technically couldn’t be considered an off-Broadway production because Wizard of Oz was never on Broadway to begin with. His statement turned out to be a prelude of the show’s quality. I could tell right away that this wasn’t a live musical of the off-Broadway caliber, which explained the director’s warning.

The music, though somewhat weak, wasn’t terrible in the least. I happen to know for a fact that all of the instrumentals were played electronically (that’s my brother’s field), so that was flawless. Dorothy’s character had a very crisp, clear voice that never failed to be heard. Glinda had a very angelic tone to her voice. In the scene with the live apple trees, the trees were played by three scantily-clad women in black dresses who sang all of their lines in a beautiful harmony. The rest of the characters had a relatively normal voice—they proved they had vocal talent, but their voices had nothing special to them. I heard a pretty bad note come from the Scarecrow once. One of my favorite performances was the Jitterbug. Everyone did a great job with the choreography. Nothing was superb, but everybody had their shining moments in the show.

The entire show was hokey, and it lacked more than just musical perfection. A majority of the special effects were displayed by means of a large, obnoxiously-placed projection screen, and consisted of mere animations of what was happening. For example, in the twister scene, the screen showed a crowd of thick black lines moving in one direction as to represent wind, and the characters had to create the illusion of walking against the wind by slowly making their way across the stage in the opposite direction of the lines. But I noticed that everyone’s hair was just hanging flat on their heads as they moved, and realized that there weren’t any wind machines being used to create artificial gusts. A major example of an error would be the hour glass, which completely ran out in thirty seconds and remained that way for the rest of the time it was shown onstage. It was just the simple little details like this that caught my attention, but with so many details consistently appearing it starts to get old after a while.

The acting, overall, was decent. All of the characters portrayed their emotions fairly well, and they weren’t hesitant to include dramatic physical input along with their lines. But once again, there were various imperfections I detected. For instance, Dorothy had a very weak and stiff crying voice. I thought at first she was just building up the emotion before breaking down, but she never delivered. There was one part in particular that my mom and I literally laughed at when it occurred. As Dorothy cried out for help in the witch’s castle, the Tin Man says to stand back as he was about to break down the door. Instead of feigning any struggle whatsoever with the door or even knocking on the door a little, he waited a few seconds (probably for “dramatic effect”) and then just casually opened the door, leisurely entering the chamber with the other characters following him. One of my favorite contributions to the show was the use of a live dog to play Toto. It was the most adorable thing ever, watching him trot back and forth across the stage all the time.

After the show finally ended and my mom and I got back to our hotel, my brother called my cell phone to discuss the show. He very bluntly asked, “So, what did you think of amateur hour?” My mom said she really enjoyed it and my brother called her crazy for it. As for me, I said it was enjoyable, but not something I’d probably want to see again. But that was okay with me, because this wasn’t even an off-Broadway show, so it wasn’t going to be excellent anyway. But I gave it a 3-star rating. It wasn’t anything special, but it was worth watching.



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