BWW Reviews: THE WIZARD OF OZ Flies into Durham
It's become an unquestioned reality of childhood in America that we all grow up knowing the story. Everybody knows the movie. Now it's coming to stages around the country. The Wizard of Oz, spending this week at the Durham Performing Arts Center, features the characters we all know and love, the songs we remember, and additional songs by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice.
The production integrates projection design to bring about the tornado which lifts Dorothy, played by Danielle Wade, all the way to the fanciful land of Oz. Interesting projection is also used for elements of flight, magic, and more. The projection is woven into the production well and is a great way to make the story come to life.
Wade does an excellent job portraying a character which has become a beloved part of our collective cultural memory. Wade, with the grace of a seasoned performer, is able to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in a way that doesn't trample our collective cultural memory of Garland's film rendition while still making it her own. Wade is a talented singer and performer in her own right, and far from a mere Judy Garland mimic. The entire cast melds their own personal touches to the beloved characters, creating something that feels nostalgic and new at the same time. Even Nigel, the dog who plays Toto, is remarkable, especially considering the large amount of time he spends on stage - it's a lot more than most dogs in show business. The show is quite enjoyable, though the new songs aren't quite as good as the ones composed for the film. Some costumes have enjoyed an update; for example, Glinda has traded in her frilly blue dress for an incredibly sparkly ensemble. Other costumes have remained the same - it's simply not The Wizard of Oz without Dorothy's blue gingham dress. Those who remember the show from childhood as well as children experiencing the story for the first time will agree that The Wizard of Oz has earned its place as a story of friendship which deserves to be retold for ages to come.
The show contains elements which may be scary for young children, and is a full-length production, which may be too long for some youngsters. The Wizard of Oz runs through April 13. For tickets and more information, visit www.dpacnc.com.