Review Roundup: Ross Petty's THE WIZARD OF OZ - A Toto-ly Twistered Family Musical
Ross Petty Productions presents THE WIZARD OF OZ - A Toto-ly Twistered Family Musical, now through January 5, 2019, his 23rd fractured fairytale and original family musical. Get a first look at the cast in action below!
Dog-walker Dorothy, Camille Eanga Selenge (The Book of Mormon / Broadway), finds herself in OZ and as the enemy of the Wicked Witch of the West, Sara-Jeanne Hosie (The Wild Party / Musical Stage Company), after she accidentally squishes the Wicked Witch of the East (blame global warming).
With hilarious help from Sugarbum, the Good Witch of the North, Michael De Rose (Grease / Elgin Theatre)-who comes from a long line of Bums including the legendary Plumbum; and the funniest trio with more courage (Daniel Williston), heart (Eric Craig) and brains (Matt Nethersole) since The Three Stooges; plus the cheers and boos from the audience, Dorothy might make it back home to her hacky sack playing friends and the Ossington Summer Street Festival with some newfound confidence and a future full of promise!
J. Kelly Nestruck, The Globe and Mail: Tracey Flye has directed the scenes at a snappy pace and choreographed the dance numbers with style and energy. The set and costumes by Cory Sincennes seem brighter and better designed than usual, and the colourful projections by Cameron Davis are truly enchanting.
Carly Maga, Toronto Star: Considering the depth of the plot, the characterizations of the Scarecrow (Nethersole), Tin Man (Craig) and Lion (Williston) feel shallow and underdeveloped - even though we see their real-life counterparts for split seconds in the opening scene, their challenges feel much clearer and relevant than those in Oz. Even Dorothy, our fearless leader, loses some of her sparkle in the play's action - thankfully, Eanga-Selenge's powerhouse voice never lets us forget who's boss.
Christopher Hoile, NOW Toronto: Michael De Rose plays Plumbum's more sedate relative Sugarbum, a witch whose spells no longer work, but whatever blandness we perceive De Rose shakes off with a rousing version Lady Gaga's Born This Way that brings down the house. Eddie Glen, now in his 16th Petty panto, plays Sulphura's henchman Randy with priceless comic dissatisfaction.
Paula Citron, Ludwig Van: Director/choreographer Tracey Flye has been associated with these pantos for years and she does a great job. Her dances are filled with modern idioms like hip-hop, Broadway/disco glitz, and doo-wop sync, which the audience loves. In the last few years, a much-anticipated feature has been the sponsor advertisement videos which include members of the cast, and are downright hilarious. There are also children brought up from the audience to help solve a problem - in this case, answering riddles to get Dorothy and her friends out of the Twisted Jungle - and their participation is as delightful as ever. The look of the show is scrumptious, and Cory Sincennes' set and costumes are simply fabulous, as are Cameron Davis eye-popping projections. In fact, so colourful is Oz, that when Dorothy first arrives, she thinks she's at a Pride parade.
Sonya Davidson, Toronto Guardian: In every Ross Petty production we have a huggable character that is "I'm not that innocent". Think Fairy Godmother (in drag) and - the one that has a solution for every question - whether it be the right one or not. Her heart is in the right place but her mind...wanders. Sugarbum, the Good Witch of the North (who comes from a long line of Bums including Plumbum, Tinkerbum amongst others) in this production is played by Michael De Rose who has a fanny pack full of surprises, you know, to keep the parents who are in the audience on their toes.
Catherine Jan, Mooney on Theatre: That said it is overall an entertaining, family-friendly show that has fun music like "Born To Be Alive" and "Born This Way" that are sung and danced to with great energy. It was a bit less goofy than past Ross Petty productions that I've seen, which is too bad, but it has the added substance of Dorothy's anti-bullying and pro-environment actions. Back from the Land of Oz, Dorothy is empowered to run for city council, so she can remedy several societal ills.
Taylor Long, BroadwayWorld: Camille Eanga-Selenge brings her Broadway vocals to Toronto as an impressive, confident, and independent Dorothy. Her rendition of "This is Me" from The Greatest Showman brings the house down and features some of the most ambitious riffs I've heard from a cover of the piece. In an adorable moment on opening night, Eanga-Selenge's dog Olive (a very calm and talented stage dog) joined in on the chorus of the song, barking along with the ensemble.