Theater to See in L.A. This Week, Including HIV Activism Classic The Normal Heart

September 26, 2013

THE WIZARD OF OZ Andrew Lloyd Webber's 2011 stage adaptation of the beloved 1939 film hits on two troubling entertainment trends: the increasing, lazy reliance on digital technology to replace theatrical stagecraft, and a much older drift toward sitcom-style quippiness in children's storytelling. Technical challenges that should have inspired ingenious problem solving (How does one create a cyclone onstage?) are hastily dispatched with CGI. More disappointingly, the classic's earnest simplicity has been repackaged for the 21st-century child. The Wicked Witch (Jacquelyn Piro Donovan) suffers most in director Jeremy Sams' translation, her terror reduced to cartoonish villainy and self-aware punch lines. Only Dorothy (Julia McLellan at the performance reviewed) plays it absolutely straight, with a spunky sincerity the show could use more of. (See: the likely unscripted f-bomb in act two.) Webber and partner Tim Rice's adequate score blends new compositions with embellished versions of the originals. But there's no magic, so it all feels a bit empty and grim beneath the grins and glamour. Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Tues.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; through Oct. 6. (800) 982-2787, (Jenny Lower)


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