The Wizard of OzLeft – Jemma Rix and Samantha Dodemaide. Cover – Samantha Dodemaide and cast. Photos – Jeff Busby

“Sorry, folks, the dog ate my scenes.”

It could be a legitimate excuse argued by Samantha Dodemaide, playing Dorothy in Andrew Llloyd Webber's new production of The Wizard of Oz.

Never work with animals, never mind children, might be racing through her mind as either Trouble or Flick, the two Australian terriers who take the role of Toto, try to upstage her at every tail wagging turn. Not that the scene stealing silkies don’t get stiff opposition. Dodemaide's Dorothy is a delight, a beautifully rendered performance of wide eyed innocence matched with wide throated vocal experience. Her rendering of the show's signature theme, the oft refrained Over the Rainbow, is glorious, cutting through any upstaging canine cuteness. Her trio of cohorts are beautifully played, Eli Cooper as as Scarecrow, Alex Rathgeber as Tin Man and John Xintavelonis as Lion.

As the two witches, Lucy Durack as Glenda the Good and Jemma Rix as Wicked Witch of the West provide perfect pitch in wicked and super-eminent. Anthony Warlow is The Wizard, the shambling charlatan showman more wise than wizard, with fine phrasing and impeccable timing.

A twenty-one strong ensemble deserve a twenty-one gun salute as they dance and march and sing through the classic songs from the 1939 movie by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg plus new songs penned by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. David Cullen's orchestrations are excitingly handled by musical director Laura Tipoki and her robust twelve piece band.

Production values are first class – Arlene Phillips choreography, scenic and costume designer Robert Jones, Hugh Vanstone's lighting design. John Driscoll's video projections bring an awesome depth to the Twister that transports Dorothy from Kansas to Oz – a bit like being inside an endoscopy – and gives sleight of eye flight to the broomstick bitch and her monkey faced minions. Luke Hura trained the dogs.

All that glistens is not gold, it's largely green, as The Emerald City plays host to the Emerald City, in this glistening presentation of a bona fide classic. What could have been merely an archaically quaint exercise in nostalgia is elevated to a slightly anarchic spectacle of West End musical magic, the ideal theatrical experience for the school holidays.

 

Andrew Lloyd Webber's London Palladium production of
The Wizard of Oz

Director Jeremy Sams

Venue: Capitol Theatre | Campbell Street, Haymarket
Dates: from 30 December 2017
Tickets: from $49.90
Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au | 1300 795 267

 

 Also playing Adelaide (from 3 April 2018) and Melbourne (from 15 May 2018)

 

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