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Saturday, 19 November 2016 16:59

London’s Grand Wizard of Oz

Written by  Dennis Kucherawy
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Features All-Star Cast

with Broadway

and Stratford and Shaw

Festival Veterans

Previews Begin this Tuesday, Nov. 22nd. Opening Night – Friday, Nov. 25th and runs until New Year’s Eve

By Dennis Kucherawy

 

Imagination must be director Rick Miller’s middle name.  He toured his international hit one-man production of  “Macbeth” across throughout North America.  Only his version of Shakespeare was called “MacHomer” with characters performed by Homer and Marge and other characters from The Simpsons cartoon TV series.

In his play “Boom,” Miller combined multimedia technology with a clever script and insightful acting to explore his take on Baby Boomers and their culture.

Now, he has turned his attention to a movie everyone has seen, “The Wizard of Oz,” and created a new postmodern version of the classic.  It certainly is not your parents’ Wiz!

Just as the Wizard’s powers were based on illusion, so is this stage adaptation which is set, Miller explains, on “a studio sound stage in Hollywood’s heyday.”

He says “the 1939 MGM film version of Frank L. Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is the one etched in my brain.  Those film sets are places of wonder and wizardry, where illusions become reality and where dreams come true.  Once you see beyond the painted flats and the emerald glow, you realize it is all la-la-land and someone has been pulling strings behind a curtain.”

Just like contemporary American politics, right Rick?

Released 77 years ago and starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, “The Wizard of Oz” movie has taken audiences of all ages “over the rainbow” for more than seven decades.  The London Grand production promises to continue that tradition.

Some of Canada’s best theatrical talents are featured including Broadway and Stratford and Shaw Festival veterans Bruce Dow (Cowardly Lion), Marcus Nance (Tin Man), Kyle Blair (Scarecrow and Carly Street (Wicked Witch).

In fact, the show is a reunion between Miller and Street who co-starred in the 2014 smash hit Canadian Theatre production of “Venus in Fur.” Carly Street won a Dora for Outstanding Performance Female. The Toronto Star said she “generates more star power than I’ve seen in ages.”

(That year, Cowardly Lion Bruce Dow also earned a Dora for Outstanding Performance Male for his performance in Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s “Pig.”)

Dorothy is played by Michelle Bouey, who appeared on CBC-TV’s “Over the Rainbow,” a reality show that sought an actress to play the the lost heroine from Kansas in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation.

Neddy Shevchenko, who has appeared in more than 350 productions of “The Wizard of Oz (including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation in Toronto,) will once again play Toto. Neddy lives in London with his Mom and Dad, brother Winny and sister Tilly.  She will be Neddy’s understudy.

Ten young people from Southwestern Ontario will play Munchkins and sing in the children’s chorus.

“I remember vividly my first exposure to the movie version of `The Wizard of Oz’ and experiencing all the range of emotion:  joy, wonder, fear and love.  And now to experience this musical on our beautiful stage seems to be a delightful opportunity,” said Dennis Garnhum, the Grand Theatre’s new artistic director.”

Information:

“The Wizard of Oz” begins previews Nov. 22nd with opening night on Friday, Nov. 25th.

Performances run through New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31st, 2016.

All evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and matinees start at 1 p.m.

Performances are Tuesday to Friday nights with matinees on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

For tickets and more information, visit www.grandtheatre.com or phone (519) 672-8800.  Also, purchasers may visit The Grand Theatre Box Office at 471 Richmond St.

Please visit Song & Script for our wide collection of “Wizard of Oz” DVDS, CDs and songbooks as well as the CD of “Wicked,” the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, featuring Idina Menzel and the original Broadway cast.

By Dennis Kucherawy

Last modified on Saturday, 19 November 2016 17:56
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