Oz in the News 3.4.11

An Exciting Find One of the thrills of collecting is running across something you’ve never seen or heard of before! Here’s a piece I’ve just gotten hold of, and am very excited about.  This is a watercolor of David Montgomery as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. It was painted in 1902 by Ike Morgan, and signed by Montgomery with the dates 1902 – 1903, early in the run of the production.

Variety: The Wizard Of Oz Review The combination of the title, the continually growing audience for “Wicked” and Hope’s unforced charm should ensure a healthy initial run. But for a grand-scale show as costly as this, extended life beyond Hope’s contract is highly questionable.

Dorothy, Wizard alive and well in dazzling “Oz” play Just like the film, the stage show starts off in black-and-white and then bursts into vivid color. Everything is dull and khaki in Kansas, and the video sequence created by Jon Driscoll that shows the tornado is wonderfully out of this world. Once Dorothy hits the road to Oz, everything is bright and dazzling, with looming sets inspired by Metropolis brought up from below the Palladium’s stage with panache.

London West End Review The real star of this show is Toto, Dorothy’s dog. Four dogs take on the exhausting and demanding role. Presumably, they have what Mark Twain described as a ‘dogmatic gathering’ each day to decide who draws the short paw to be dragged behind Dorothy along the yellow brick road. I’m not sure if all the dogs are the same variety – the one I saw was a whitish Westie. Predictably, when Toto makes its first entrance, a wave of maternal ‘awwws’ spreads round the audience. Toto is pretty cute, but I noticed s/he spent a good deal of time sniffing the stage, and at one point picked up something in its mouth, and then promptly spat it out again after a cursory tasting.  At least the dog-star did not relieve itself on Tinman’s leg, but it does get substituted during the really scary bits with a stuffed version!

The Wizard of Oz, London Palladium Jeremy Sams, the director, and Andrew Lloyd Webber have adapted the celebrated MGM film for the stage and found nothing new to add. The sets are lavish and the opening scenes in Kansas, all monochrome browns, are truly beautiful and hold out promise for what is to come. Sadly Oz proves atrociously vulgar and the yellow brick road goes nowhere slowly, a bit like the show. It also manages to make Harold Arlen’s songs sound nondescript, which is no mean achievement.

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