If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It: The Wizard of Oz

Uh oh, here comes Negative Nellie again as she moans about the 21st Century spoiling all of her fun. Yeah, yeah… but I think I have valid points.

First of all, I saw Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of The Wizard of Oz in Toronto last night. The actors were great and I loved the new songs he added. I know, hard to believe. They fit in well and didn’t detract from the originals — in fact, he tacked on the original songs that were excluded from the film and a few of the missing lyrics. The nice young lady playing Dorothy Gale must have studied Judy Garland’s mannerisms until she was blue in the face. A job well done.

So, where are the complaints, you ask?

I’m just wondering if computer generated images and technology are ruining the fabric of our society. The theatre is as old as the hills and part of a theatre is experiencing the creativity of performing arts without the illusionary methods of filmmaking. Look, I know Glinda the Good Witch is strapped to a wire. That’s okay. I know you were feeding Toto treats the whole time to keep him on stage… doesn’t bother me a bit! I’m interested in theatre, not the ways in which you get around some sort of technical difficulty.

Instead of trying to think of creative ways to create dream sequences or a cyclone… they used screen upon screen to create the effects! Lights from the projectors were highly distracting… and I felt like I was in a tornado of MS paint because the graphics were done poorly. The sets were phenomenal and quite breathtaking — the Emerald City was so classy. I know the producers of this play were capable of creating amazing sets and special effects… so why did they resort to technology?

Technology makes life easier. Creating computer generated images of a tornado is much easier than a twister over thirty feet tall made out of muslin. That didn’t stop Arnold Gillespie back in the late 1930s when the original film was made. And, you know what? His tornado was much more convincing on the screen than the one on the screen in the middle of a play in 2013! One of the women I went to see the play with reminisced about the time that she saw Oz as a young girl and they sent a miniature house over the audience and twirled it around. That, my friends, is theatre and you go to the theatre expecting that type of spectacle.

Tomorrow, I will be ranting, yet again, about the never-ending attempts to update one of the greatest films of all time… and you’ll be hearing a lot about James Franco. Has anyone seen Oz the Great and Powerful? Also, if anyone was wondering if they should see Webber’s adaptation… it comes highly recommended by myself and others. Just be prepared for strobe lights and unnecessary technologies.

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