Oz in the News 8.3.16

tn-500_7459First Look at Character Shots of the Non-Professional Production of WICKED in Sydney  Packemin Productions and Riverside Theatres are defying gravity in their production of WICKED, now playing through August 13, 2016. Lead by a professional cast consisting of Wayne Scott Kermond (Singin’ in the Rain, Anything Goes) as the as the comedic Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Ashleigh O’Brien as the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, Mikayla Williams as Glinda The Good and Linden Furnell (Rent, Violet) as the handsome Fiyero.

A robot tale’s wound down by narration  Based on the character created by L Frank Baum in “The Marvellous Land of Oz” and “Ozma of Oz”, Surachai wrote “The Adventure of Tik-Tok, Man of Oz” in Thai and Bangkok-based English actor James Laver, who also portrays the title character, translated it into English. For the first 10 minutes or so, the script takes the audience back to the story most of us know, that of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, and then tells how Dorothy travelled back to the nearby Ev, where she met Tik-Tok. A major flaw here is there is so much narration that it sounds and feels as if we’re listening to someone telling the story, some parts of which are acted out, instead of watching a play filled with dramatic actions. And in terms of stage adaptation, there’s another question: how this story is relevant to us here and now, rather than just being a lesser known story that’s stage-worthy. The play is being performed in English, with English and Thai surtitles, and herein lies another problem. It reminded me of news clip where someone is speaking English with an accent and English subtitles are put on as if he’s not speaking English. Given that Surachai’s creations of Tik-Tok’s costume and mechanism are such a delight, I wonder whether the play would deliver its messages, especially to the children, were the play performed in Thai.

Could Todrick Hall’s Straight Outta Oz Become a Broadway Musical? “I think it would be disrespectful to try to bring what I put on YouTube to Broadway, but I think the overall essence of it is something that could come there,” he says. Yet Hall knows that another Wizard of Oz story must add something to the conversation to be viable. “I don’t want to go to Broadway and do another Wizard of Oz show that doesn’t bring anything new to the community. I want it to be a show that changes people’s lives.” Hall also believes his show takes a step towards reuniting Broadway and pop music. “I think that’s what Broadway was to begin with,” he says. “The music that people were listening to on the radio was the same music that they were singing on Broadway. Somewhere along the line, people got this concept that Broadway had to be old-school and always tap dancing to old school music that sounded like it was in the ’40s and ’50s. I don’t know where that happened, and my goal is to play a very small part or whatever part I can play in making that not a fact anymore.”

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