15 July 2008

Brother Wizards

Last month Jude sent me links to these two photos from a production of The Wizard of Oz in Ho Chi Minh City, which Simon Kutcher posted on his Saigon Today blog.

I've seen similar photos from many other parts of the world:

Red footwear for Dorothy is usually a sign that the show takes its inspiration mostly from the MGM movie, not L. Frank Baum's original book.

These stage productions can have innovative costumes and characterizations, sometimes reflecting the host country, or try to replicate the movie's look. Of course, presenting Toto on stage is always a challenge. I've seen real dogs, toy dogs, small children as dogs, and--if I recall the production of an American school in Arabia correctly--Dorothy's pet camel.

Some productions include a song cut from the film called "The Jitterbug." Since we never see that nerve-wracking insect in the movie, it offers stage directors nearly unlimited costume and makeup possibilities.

Not that there's anything wrong with basing a stage show on the movie rather than the book. After all, the movie has better music.


Anonymous said...

But the last two chapters of the book make much more sense than the last ten minutes of the movie.

J. L. Bell said...

And there aren’t any songs in the last half hour or so of the movie, so my remark about music isn’t so pertinent.

I came to Oz through a second-grade play based on the MGM movie, so I have to be grateful to such adaptations. Still, I much prefer the books and their true picture of Oz.

Sam said...

I tried to dig up an old newspaper story I wrote about a local Oz production.

As I remember, another great benefit of the Jitterbug scene was the chance for an unlimited number of children to gyrate on stage at one time.

Between that and the munchkin scenes, every kid who auditioned could be part of it.

J. L. Bell said...

One of my favorite things about youth theater is seeing how directors handle the creative challenge of casts consisting of eight boys and seventy girls.

Anonymous said...

Hence, the multiple productions of The Sound of Music and Anna and the King of Siam...

Unrelated - there is a very cute new YA book called My Life the Musical, by Maryrose Wood.