Review by CJ
Samantha Dodemaide, Eli Cooper, Alex Rathgeber, John Xintavelonis, Jemma Rix, Lucy Durack, Anthony Warlow, Flick/Trouble
Regent Theatre (Melbourne, Australia)
150 minutes (including intermission)
The story of Dorothy’s (Dodemaide) journey through the merry old land of Oz to meet the wonderful wizard (Warlow) and find her way home to Kansas. On her journey, Dorothy meets loyal friends, encounters fearsome foes and is joined by her canine companion Toto (Flick/Trouble).
I have loved the story of The Wizard of Oz for as long as I can remember. Nearly 30 years after I first discovered it, my mother still can’t bear to watch the film because she was subjected to it so many times when I was a youngster. I devoured the book countless times, finishing it then turning right back to the first page. So, when I was gifted a front row ticket, I was thrilled to be off to see the wizard.
The Wizard of Oz was a truly magical experience. From the moment the opening score starts to the dazzling finale, I was blown away by the talent showcased on the stage before me.
Samantha Dodemaide is amazing as Dorothy. Not many people can do ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ justice, but Dodemaide has not only the vocal range but the passion to perform the classic as it should be performed.
Lucy Durack and Jemma Rix are fantastic reprising their roles from Wicked as Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West respectively. The two actresses play well of each other and their characters’ interactions bring some of the most humorous moments in the show to life.
Also highly entertaining is Alex Rathgeber as the Scarecrow. While Tin Man and Lion have their funny moments, it is Scarecrow who stole the show without being obtrusive. Rathgeber employs physical humour and the nature of his character to get laughs and make one’s heart grow three sizes bigger.
Visually, the costumes were gorgeous and the set designs were fabulously orchestrated. The ruby slippers were simply stunning and their vibrance was almost a performance in itself.
I thought it was interesting that projections were used to enhance some of the special effects. Things that would be next to impossible to display effectively on a stage were replaced with filmed footage or animations. It added a depth to the theatre experience that was awesome.
I honestly am not sure if Toto was portrayed by Flick or Trouble in the session I saw, but they were such a great addition to the show and, truth be told, received the loudest applause at the end of the show.
If you love musical theatre or the tale of The Wizard of Oz, then the new Andrew Lloyd Webber production absolutely should not be missed.