Did you know that The Wizard of Oz was popular long before the 1939 film starring Judy Garland? L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was first published in 1900 (and it was followed by a whole series of stories about the Land of Oz), and it didn’t take long for Dorothy’s story to become a stage production — first in Chicago in 1902 and then on Broadway in 1903.
But there’s no doubt that it was the MGM movie musical that made the story into a kind of 20th-century myth, full of characters and lines everyone knows — and especially songs we can all sing, including “Over the Rainbow,” which won the Academy Award for best song in 1939.
The film and its classic score are the foundation for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s version that’s become a popular touring production, stopping in Cincinnati for a two-week run at the Aronoff Center courtesy of Broadway Across America.
Don’t mistake this production for Wicked (although I’m sure the presenters hope that mega-hit show’s magic rubs off on this production), but this one has its own appeal, including dazzling sets and costumes by Tim McQuillen-Wright. His inspiration is the glamour and elegance of Art Deco Hollywood, in full bloom when the film was made in 1939, plus the stunning Technicolor hues that made the film a timeless visual hit.
All of Harold Arlen’s popular songs are used in the stage show (from “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” to “If I Only Had a Brain”) so this is one musical you can walk into and out of the theater humming the score! Through Nov. 23. $19-$65.
See Rick Pender's review here.