The Wizard of Oz | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Wizard of Oz 

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Oz lovers of all ages should cherish this lavish remount of the sumptuous movie musicalization Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire produced in 1998. Adapter John Kane's gorgeous homage to the adored 1939 MGM film restores the boogie-woogie "Jitterbug" number, turns the twister into a black-lit swirl of hilarious detritus, and transforms the apple trees into sassy drag queens. Delivering enough irreverent wordplay and contemporary puns to make L. Frank Baum's classic seem hip, this stage version retains everything that made the movie memorable and restores lines from the 1900 book. Fresh from her triumph as the young Barbra Streisand in Timeless, 16-year-old Lauren Frost offers a Dorothy who takes every moment so seriously that we do too (almost). Marc Robin's triple-jointed Scarecrow, Mark-David Kaplan's tender Tin Man (Kaplan replaces Stephen P. Full), and Don Forston's child-pleasing Cowardly Lion join Mary Ernster's liltingly lyrical Glinda, Ronald Keaton's ineffectual Wizard (there is no Professor Marvel), and Peggy Roeder's catty Witch. (She denounces her dead sister's bad taste: imagine wearing ruby slippers with striped socks.) There are just two drawbacks to this show: the lack of a monochromatic look to Katherine Ross's set for the Kansas prologue and the absence of the Emerald City beauty parlor scene (present in the Marriott original). But this production's eye-popping scenery takes full advantage of the new location's proscenium stage and fly space. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand, 312-595-5600. Through August 19: Wednesdays-Thursdays, 2 and 7 PM; Fridays, 7 PM; Saturdays, 2 and 7 PM; Sundays, 2 PM. $38; $28 for children.

--Lawrence Bommer

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.

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