Fate brings Wizard of Oz to NZ It should have been one of the biggest days of Francesco Ventriglia and Gianluca Falaschi’s respective careers. After a successful dress rehearsal, Ventriglia – a ballet dancer, choreographer and then director of MaggioDanza (Opera Dance Theatre) in Florence – was about to see a childhood dream come true. Designer Falaschi was excited to see audience reaction to the sets and costumes he’d designed for a bold new re-telling of The Wizard of Oz. But, instead of taking their seats at the opening night of the world premiere, the men stood outside the theatre shedding tears of despair rather than joy. A small portion of the ceiling had collapsed, meaning all productions were cancelled for the foreseeable future. Ventriglia’s story leans more toward the darker L. Frank Baum book, rather than the 1939 Hollywood movie with Judy Garland as Dorothy. Taking his lead from this, Falaschi sought to hint at the era the story and film appeared in but to make sets and costumes blending memories and remembrances of fantastical childhood dreams. His world of Oz features bold colours: the Art Deco-style Emerald City is the most verdant green you’ll see on stage, and dancers clad in deep red gowns form a field of gently rippling poppies. It’s all a treat, but the realm of the Princess of Porcelain takes the everyday and makes simple cups and saucers magical and elegant. Dancers in snow-white tutus, edged with the china-blue patterns found on fine porcelain, embody cups and saucers, moving as if they really were being picked up by someone enjoying a high tea. Falaschi says the inspiration came from childhood afternoon teas with his grandmother who also had a canary in a cage. His memory of the little yellow bird in its cage inspired – in a roundabout way – the Wicked Witch of the West’s striking coffin-like cage, from which she breaks free but is always drawn back towards.