Friday, January 15

Theater Review: Broadway Across America ~ Indianapolis: Wizard of Oz

Broadway in Indianapolis brings flying monkeys, melting witches and a scary forest to the stage at Clowes Memorial Hall, Butler University. Running through Jan. 17, Wizard of Oz opens to a packed audience.

When a live version of a film classic is attempted, it is perfectly natural to feel trepidation. Will it have the original score? What will be chopped out and what will be updated to the point of destroying that which made the show popular in the first place?

Relax. They nailed the song list, characters (minus the Lullaby League), and even have a rainbow or two.

In fact, this is in my Top 10 favorites Broadway Across America productions I have reviewed since 2007. The classic, beloved film is given the respect due it, with a couple extra bonus items inserted for updating purposes.Dorothy Gale, the little girl caught up in a tornado, is performed oh-so-believably by Sarak Lasko. From her vocal talent with the deal breaker song, "Over the Rainbow," to her sweetness with her new travel pals, you just fall for her. (Prepare to get misty-eyed when she bids farewell to those friends.)

Playing the wise-cracking, adorable Scarecrow is Jay McGill. The man of straw, in this modern version, is less about trying to prove his intellect and more like Dory from Pixar's "Finding Nemo" ~ adorable and ditzy.

Morgan Reynolds gets everyone's attention as the Tin Man, the minute he opens his mouth to sing his character's song of woe, "If I Only had a Heart."

A surprise insertion is after intermission when the witch is melted and the enslaved Winkies show their happiness with a killer dance sequence. A great addition to an otherwise quick scene, showing why remakes can be good.

Shani Hadjian cackles as good as Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West. She also brings out her girly side when she sings one of five new tunes, "Red Shoes Blues.

Certainly this production feels as if has been given a "Wicked" once over, in regards to one-liners and asides to the audience. This only serves to enrich the show bringing to a modern end, staving off any chance at a verbatim stale remake of the MGM classic.

Bottom Line: Broadway Across Indianapolis' Wizard of Oz brushes up the film classic endearing it to a whole new generation.

Images: Provided by BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com

Tickets can be found at BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com

 Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes two magazine food and wine columns: Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks,and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as the Travel & Leisure Adviser on FOX59 Morning News Show. She also is a speaker, consultant and trainer for hospitality, travel and luxury businesses, P.R., and tourism groups, as well as a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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