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REVIEW: Wizard of Oz Still Magical at Pantages in Hollywood!


Veteran actor Cedric Smith plays Professor Marvel and The Wizard in the revival of “The Wizard of Oz” now being performed at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood.  Photo by Randy Economy

Veteran actor Cedric Smith plays Professor Marvel and The Wizard in the revival of “The Wizard of Oz” now being performed at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. Photo by Randy Economy

By Kristin Grafft

It’s hard to put your own spin on something so classic. There have been spin offs like, “The Wiz” and, “Wicked,” but this touring production group has managed to take the original “Wizard of Oz” and still make it their own.

While the show does retain all the beloved songs and iconic moments of the original, there are also new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, as well as contemporary jokes and amusing banter added in between the characters.

One of my favorite scenes is at the end of the show, during Dorothy’s good byes, as she prepares to leave Oz. She says her famous line to the Scarecrow, “I think I’m going to miss you most of all.” But, in this version, the comment is met with some well-warranted indignation from the Tin Man and Lion.

Most of the characters also retained that original feel one might expect (and hope for) in a production of the “Wizard of Oz.”

The wicked witch of the west, played by Jacquelyn Piro Donovan, has a flawless cackle and is everything a wicked witch should be. The scarecrow was wonderfully comedic and well played by Jamie McKnight. The tin man (Mike Jackson) and lion (Lee MacDougall) were also well done, but the lion’s costume is what really caught my eye with its bodacious curves.

My one complaint is that this adaptation seemed to miss the irony in the “missing” pieces of each character, particularly with the scarecrow. Although the scarecrow claims to not have a brain, he is clearly the most intelligent of the bunch. He is even deemed “the wisest man in all of Oz,” in L. Frank Baum’s novel, “Land of Oz.”

IMG_7079However, in this version, I kept waiting for the scarecrow’s brilliant moment and unfortunately it never came. He remains a forgetful, albeit loveable, dimwit throughout the show.

The one character that didn’t quite meet my expectations was Glinda. She had, what I can only describe as, “a witchiness” to her. In fact if Glinda’s makeup and dress had been different she could have just as easily been the wicked witch – she even had a sort of cackle.

And then of course there is Dorothy, played by the wonderful Danielle Wade, who won the part by participating in CBC TV’s competition, “Over The Rainbow.”

The wizard is played by Cedric Smith, who is described as, “one of Canada’s most respected and honored actors,” and a Gemini-winner, film and theatre veteran.

One of the most memorable aspects of the show was its use of lights and screens in an amazing update to the theater adaptation.

Audience members were made to feel almost a-part of the show, in a way that I have never experienced in live theater before. Although blinding at times, overall it had a dazzling and impressive effect that enhanced the telling of the story.

The show will run for three weeks at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, closing on Sunday, October 6.

The performance schedule for “The Wizard of Oz” is Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, and Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.HollywoodPantages.com or www.Ticketmaster.com or by phone at 1-800-982-2787. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Pantages Box Office and all Ticketmaster outlets.

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