The National Theatre beamed with bright, bold colors and sheer spectacle last night, capping its season with a new production of The Wizard of Oz in an enthralling adaptation of the all-time popular classic, which feature beloved songs from the Oscar® – winning movie score, all the cherished characters and iconic moments, as well as new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Starring Washingtonian native Sarah Lasko, a University of Maryland and Rockville High graduate, who shines as Dorothy, the new adaptation directed by Jeremy Sams splendidly captures the heart and moxie of the 1939 film and revitalizes it with ingenious IMAX-sized screen projections, energetic choreography (by Arlene Phillips), creative costuming on a stunning set (both designed by Robert Jones) and an expertly-trained rescue dog (Nigel) who amazed as Toto.
From Kansas to Munchkinland to Emerald City, each scene is grand and spectacular, garnering well-deserved ‘Oohhhs’ and ‘Ahhhs’ from the intergenerational audience with impressive dance numbers and innovative use of props such as the ensemble’s rendition of “Hail-Hail! The Witch is Dead” in Act Two.
Lasko charmingly leads the crowd-pleasing trio of the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion each fabulously rendered by Morgan Reynolds, Jay McGill, and Aaron Fried, respectively. Reynolds was particularly entertaining with his limber dance moves, as were McGill’s “If I Only Had a Heart” interlude and Fried’s skilled comedic timing and commentaries.
Other standout performances included Shani Hadjian as the Wicked Witch of the West, channeling Margaret Hamilton with Act Two’s opener “Red Shoes Blues.” Hadjian’s maniacal laugh reverberated the theater in an entertainingly chilling fashion. Likewise, Rachel Womble gorgeously radiated as Good Witch Glinda, delivering snarky yet saucy lines with aplomb. Both actresses are adept at anchoring the production throughout. Similarly, Mark A. Harmon rises to the occasion as the befuddled but engaging Professor Marvel/The Wizard.
Beautifully adapted with lush orchestrations and dazzling Broadway glitz, the new North American tour of The Wizard of Oz is a fantastically-fun, magical musical treat that will surely enchant the entire family.
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours , with a 20-minute intermission.
Sarah Lasko is ‘Over the Rainbow’ Coming Home and Playing Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at The National Theatre by Joel Markowitz.