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The Wizard of Oz (London 2011)

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The Wizard of Oz is a musical based on the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The adaptation is by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams. The musical uses all of the Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg songs from the film and includes new songs and additional music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and additional lyrics by Tim Rice. The show is currently playing at the London Palladium.

After previews in the West End from 7 February, The Wizard of Oz London opened on 1 March 2011, directed by Jeremy Sams, with the lead role of Dorothy Gale played primarily by Danielle Hope, who was chosen in the television program "Over the Rainbow". Michael Crawford plays the title role of the Wizard, Hannah Waddingham plays the Wicked Witch of the West and "Over the Rainbow" runner-up Sophie Evans plays Dorothy on Tuesday evenings and when Hope is on holiday.


Plot

Act I Teenager Dorothy Gale lives on a farm in Kansas with her Aunt Em, Uncle Henry and dog Toto, but feels that her aunt and uncle don't understand her ("Nobody Understands Me"). The unpleasant Miss Gulch threatens to call the sheriff after Toto bites her leg. Dorothy wants to escape to a nicer place, somewhere "Over the Rainbow". She runs away from the farm and meets Professor Marvel, who tells her all about "The Wonders of the World". They are interrupted by a twister, and Dorothy runs home for shelter. Inside the farm house, she bangs her head on the bedside. The house is borne away by the storm. Landing in Oz, Dorothy's house flattens the Wicked Witch of the East. Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, greets Dorothy and Toto and tells her where she is. Glinda calls for the Munchkins to "Come Out". These little people are overjoyed at the demise of their wicked tormentor ("Ding Dong the Witch is Dead"). Glinda presents Dorothy with the magic ruby slippers belonging to the dead wicked witch. This enrages the witch's sister, the Wicked Witch of the West. Glinda tells Dorothy that the Wizard of Oz might be able to help her return home, and how to find him ("Follow the Yellow Brick Road"). Dorothy sets off toward the Emerald City to speak to the great Oz ("You’re Off to See the Wizard"). On her way, she meets the Scarecrow, who feels inadequate with a head full of only stuffing ("If I Only Had a Brain"). Dorothy invites him to join her on the journey, hoping the Wizard can help him ("We’re Off to See the Wizard"). They soon meet the Tin Man, who is unhappy with his empty tin chest ("If I Only Had a Heart") and invite him to join them on their journey. The Wicked Witch of the West threatens to light the Scarecrow on fire unless Dorothy gives her the ruby slippers; Dorothy refuses. In the dark forest, they encounter a very unhappy Lion, afraid of his own tail ("If I Only Had the Nerve"). He too joins the group on the road to the Emerald City. Emerging into the light ("We’re Out of the Woods"), the friends encounter another obstacle. The Wicked Witch has cast a spell creating a huge field of poppies that puts Dorothy and the Lion to sleep. Glinda counters with a snowfall that nullifies the poison, so the friends may continue on their journey. Arriving at the Emerald City, Dorothy and company persuade the gatekeeper to admit them. They are welcomed with open arms and are groomed in preparation for a meeting with the Wizard ("Merry Old Land of Oz"). The Wicked Witch flies down into the City with more threats, still angry that she doesn’t have the ruby slippers. The four friends and Toto go into the Wizard’s chamber. The great Oz appears as a frightening, disembodied head and refuses to grant the group their wishes until they do something for him. He demands: "Bring Me the Broomstick" of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Act II In a forest on the way to the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West, the group try to figure out how to steal the broomstick ("We Went to See the Wizard"). They hide from a group of the Witch’s Winkies ("March of the Winkies"). Meanwhile, in her castle, the Witch sends her flying monkeys to capture Dorothy and Toto and bring them to the castle ("Red Shoes Blues"). She imprisons Dorothy and tells her to give up the slippers within the hour or die. Dorothy wishes more than ever that she was back at home ("Over the Rainbow" (reprise)). The Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion consider how to rescue Dorothy from the Witch’s castle ("If We Only Had a Plan"). They disguise themselves as Winkies and sneak into the castle ("March of the Winkies" (reprise)). They find the Witch and Dorothy. When the Witch tries to attack the Scarecrow, a Winkie hands Dorothy a bucket of water, which she throws over the Witch, melting her. The Winkies are thrilled to be free of the Wicked Witch ("Hail – Hail – The Witch is Dead"). Dorothy and friends return with the broomstick to see the Wizard. Toto reveals that the Wizard's fearsome visage is an illusion; he is just an ordinary man. Still, he gives the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion tokens of the brains, heart and courage that they already had inside of them. He tells Dorothy that he himself will take her to Kansas in his hot air balloon, appointing the Scarecrow as prime minister of Oz, with the Tin Man and Lion as other ministers ("You Went to See the Wizard"). Just before the balloon flies off, Toto runs into the crowd, and Dorothy retrieves him, missing her ride; she is seemingly stranded in Oz. Glinda appears to tell her that she and Toto had the power to return home all along ("Already Home"). After saying goodbye to her friends, Dorothy clicks her heels together three times, chanting "There’s No Place Like Home". Back in Kansas, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry tell Dorothy that she hit her head and had been unconscious for days. Dorothy insists her adventure in Oz was real, not all a dream, but she is very grateful to be home. As Aunt Em and Uncle Henry leave her alone in her bedroom to rest, a gust of wind blows open her cupboard door, revealing the ruby slippers.


Background

The Wizard of Oz was first turned into a musical extravaganza by Baum himself. A loose adaptation of his 1900 novel (there is no Wicked Witch or Toto, and there are some new characters), it first played in Chicago in 1902 and was a success on Broadway the following year. It then toured for nine years. The 1939 film adaptation bore a closer resemblance to the storyline of Baum's original novel than most previous versions. It was a strong success, winning the Academy Awards for best song and best score, and continues to be broadcast perennially. Among the many musical theatre adaptations of The Wizard of Oz, two previous ones have used the songs from the film. In 1945, the St. Louis Municipal Opera (MUNY) created a version with a script adapted by Frank Gabrielson from the novel, but it is influenced in some respects by the motion picture screenplay. It uses most of the songs from the film. This was followed, in 1987, by a Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) adaptation designed to more closely recreate the film version. The book by John Kane closely follows the film's screenplay, and it and uses nearly all of the film's music. Both the MUNY and RSC adaptations were successes and have been revived numerous times in the U.S. and UK. The Wizard of Oz is Andrew Lloyd Webber's 18th musical. Tim Rice first collaborated with Lloyd Webber in 1965, together writing The Likes of Us. Their next piece was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, followed by two more concept albums that became hit musicals, Jesus Christ Superstar (1971) and Evita (1978). For Queen Elizabeth's 60th birthday celebration, they wrote Cricket in 1986, but after their extraordinary early success in Evita, each man turned to other collaborators to produce further well-known musical theatre works. The Wizard of Oz is Rice and Lloyd Webber's first production together in the West End in over three decades. To create the new musical, Lloyd Webber and director Jeremy Sams adapted the 1939 film's screenplay, and Rice and Lloyd Webber added several new songs to the film's score. In July 2010, Lloyd Webber told the Daily Mail, "The fact is that The Wizard of Oz has never really worked in the theatre. The film has one or two holes where in the theatre you need a song. For example, there's nothing for either of the two witches to sing." "Tim and I are doing quite a specific thing, because we know what's missing."


Roles and Original Cast

  • Dorothy Gale – Danielle Hope
  • Alternate Dorothy – Sophie Evans
  • The Wizard of Oz/Professor Marvel – Michael Crawford
  • Scarecrow/Hunk – Paul Keating
  • Tin Man/Hickory – Edward Baker-Duly
  • Cowardly Lion/Zeke – David Ganly
  • The Wicked Witch of the West/Miss Gulch – Hannah Waddingham
  • Glinda the Good Witch of the North – Emily Tierney
  • Auntie Em/Munchkin Barrister – Helen Walsh
  • Uncle Henry/Philippe/Head Guard – Stephen Scott
  • Toto – Four different West Highland Terriers alternate in the role.

Musical Numbers

Most of the musical's songs are taken from the 1939 film and were written by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg. New numbers written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice include a song for Professor Marvel ("The Wonders of the World") and the Wicked Witch of the West ("Red Shoes Blues"), two songs for the Wizard ("Bring Me the Broomstick" and "Farewell to Oz") a new song for Glinda and the ensemble (Already Home) and another song for Dorothy ("Nobody Understands Me"). A song featured in the film but omitted in the musical is "If I Were King of the Forest."

Act One

  • Overture
  • "Nobody Understands Me"* - Dorothy, Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, Hunk, Hickory, Zeke and Miss Gulch
  • "Over the Rainbow" - Dorothy
  • "The Wonders of the World"* - Professor Marvel
  • "The Twister"
  • "Munchkinland" - Glinda, Dorothy and Munchkins
  • "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" - Glinda, Dorothy and Munchkins
  • "If I Only Had a Brain" – Scarecrow and Dorothy
  • "We're Off to See the Wizard" – Dorothy and Scarecrow
  • "If I Only Had a Heart" – Tin Man
  • "If I Only Had the Nerve" – Lion
  • "Optimistic Voices" – Dorothy, Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Ensemble
  • "The Merry Old Land of Oz" – Company
  • "Bring Me the Broomstick"* – The Wizard

Act Two

  • Entr'acte – Orchestra
  • "We Went to See the Wizard" – Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion
  • "March of the Winkies" – Ensemble
  • "Red Shoes Blues"* – Wicked Witch of the West and Winkies
  • "Over the Rainbow" (reprise) – Dorothy
  • "If We Only Had a Plan" – Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow
  • "March of the Winkies" (reprise) – Ensemble, Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion
  • "Hail – Hail! The Witch is Dead" – Ensemble
  • "You Went to See the Wizard" – The Wizard
  • "Farewell to Oz"* – The Wizard
  • "Already Home"* – Glinda, Dorothy and Ensemble
  • Finale – Dorothy and Company
*denotes a new song

Reception

Opening night reviews were mixed but generally praised the designs, the special effects and several cast members, especially Waddingham. The Telegraph reviewer, Charles Spencer, rated the production three out of five stars, writing: "Jeremy Sams’s production pulls out all the stops, with ingenious designs by Robert Jones that skilfully conjure up both the sepia world of Kansas and the lurid colours of Oz. Dorothy’s flight to the enchanted land is thrillingly caught with the help of film effects that wouldn’t look out of place on Dr Who and the story is told with clarity and pace", but added that Hope "offers a thoroughly competent rather than an inspired performance" that "lacks the heart-catching vulnerability of the young Judy Garland". Paul Taylor of The Independent gave the show four out of five stars, commenting: "Jeremy Sams's production is a marvel of beguiling narrative fluency and, with Robert Jones's superb designs, of endlessly witty and spectacular visual invention – from the digitally-enhanced hurricane transition to Oz to the skeletally twisted Gothic palace of the Wicked Witch and her totalitarian, helmeted guards." Henry Hitchings of the London Evening Standard also gave the show four out of five stars, praising Jones's "lavish costumes and lovingly conceived sets. ... The story is lucid and well-paced, though the technological wizardry occasionally obscures its inherent magic." Although Michael Billington, the reviewer at The Guardian, felt "blitzkrieged rather than charmed", he gave the production three stars out of five, writing: "The star of the show is undoubtedly the set and costume designer, Robert Jones. The Kansas cyclone that whisks Dorothy into a dreamworld is evoked through vorticist projections (the work of Jon Driscoll) that betoken chaos in the cosmos. The Yellow Brick Road is on a tilted revolve from inside which poppyfields and labyrinthine forest emerge. The Emerald City is full of steeply inclined walls suggesting a drunkard's vision of the Chrysler Building lobby. And the Wicked Witch of the West inhabits a rotating dungeon that might be a Piranesi nightmare. ... Of course, there are the songs; it's good to be reminded of such classics as "Over The Rainbow", "We're Off To See The Wizard", and "Follow The Yellow Brick Road". The additions by Lloyd Webber and Rice are also perfectly acceptable. Dorothy is given a good plaintive opening number, and Red Shoes Blues, sung by the Wicked Witch, has a pounding intensity." Writing in the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts felt that "the story lacks the emotive motor of a love affair" and that the "dramatic buzz" is "not much better than you'd find at a decent pantomime". The Oxford Times reviewed the production during Evans's first week (in May 2011) replacing the vacationing Hope, calling the show "hugely enjoyable" and commenting of Evans: "Such is her success in the role that it would be hard to imagine anyone could consider they were getting second-best."

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