Until January 3, 2016, gather your whole family and head off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz is now onstage at The Gateway Theatre in Richmond. Based on the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz brings all your favourite characters to the stage for a wicked interpretation of the family classic.
Lead by Bridget Esler as Dorothy, supported by they trio of Victoria Hunter as Hunk/Scarecrow, Lindsay Warnock as Hickory/Tinman and Tom Pickett as Zeke/Cowardly Lion as they follow the yellow brick road to find the Wizard. Tara Travis chews the scenery as a deliciously camp Wicked Witch of the West (and Miss Gulch) lending urgency to the quartet’s journey. Jill Raymond’s Aunt Em/Glinda, The Good Witch is an ethereal counterpoint to Travis’ characters.
The large ensemble, including a large number of children plus a real dog, Henry Emerson as Toto, fill the stage with song and dance as the adventure takes us from Kansas, to Munchkinland, to the Emerald City and the Witches Castle and back. Along they way we encounter farmhands, Munchkins, Ozians, Crows, Jitterbugs and Flying Monkeys.
Watching the younger members of the audience helped the ‘grown ups’ in the audience experience the show through fresh eyes with every ooh, ah and squeal. The non-stop action keeps the pace moving along to feel much shorter than the 150 minute run time (plus a 20 minute intermission). It’s a testament to the capability of the cast that they held the attention of the young viewers throughout the performance.
Director Barbara Tomasic read the original L Frank Baum story to find the nuances of the tale so her play didn’t just become a remake of the film. She guides the actors to create characters that every audience member can relate to and find themselves on the stage. Ms Tomasic viewed The Wizard of Oz as a story to find ourselves, the find out that home really is where the heart is, there really is no place like home.
The Wizard of Oz is at home at Gateway Theatre, 6500 Gilbert Road, in Richmond, until January 3, 2016. Matinees and evening performances are available throughout the run but book tickets soon, this will be a popular Holiday show especially once school break begins.