The Emerald City beckons us all once again. The wonderful and endearing favorite, The Wizard of Oz, is playing at the magnificent Chicago Theatre through May 28th. This is a live stage performance with a wonderful cast that completely captures the innocent essence and the bold spirit of the original book (did you know it was first published in 1900?), Broadway musical (1902!) and the movie we all know and love from 1939.
Kallie Kaiman plays Dorothy, and proves to be a singer and actress of great skill, whose personal on-stage presence shows us emotion, energy and ability in big doses. Chris Duir is the lovable Scarecrow (Hunk), and his physical control and playful demeanor bring our straw-stuffed friend believably to life. Christopher Russell is our Tin Man (Hickory), while Victor Legerreta is our Cowardly Lion (Zeke). These two, and really, all the actors here, display the attributes of the film characters so well that you might think you’re watching the original actors.
But this is not just a small stage remake of the film. It’s truly magical, with whimsical effects, great music, tremendous lighting, lavish stages and costumes. In addition to the beloved characters from the movie, we are also treated to “The Jitterbugs”, characters from the book not included in the movie. It’s a great inclusion. This well-refreshed, awakened version fits beautifully on the stage, yet incorporates the flying monkeys, the Wicked Witch on her broom, and the Good Witch in her bubble, to bring “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairy tale” to real life on this impressive stage in this grandest of theaters.
Dear readers, go see this. Gentlemen, surprise your loved one with a romantic, yet light-hearted date night. Parents, take your kids, especially if they are young, and perhaps haven’t seen the film yet. Or just get some friends together and have a very unusual night on the town. This is truly a happy theater experience, so if you have not seen a stage play before, this is a most excellent starting place. The acting and singing are first-class, the production values do great justice to both this production and the film; you will have fun and leave with your heart a bit lighter. Don’t miss this, just go.