A cool blend of contemporary & retro culture

The Wizard of Oz: a classic story gets a decent stage reboot but what’s with all the Kansas accents having gone with the wind?

The Wizard of Oz is on at Crown Theatre in Perth and there’s no better musical to escape to right now – especially after a heavy 2021, laden with shutdowns, restrictions and confusion.

This is one production that will get your mind off some of the tragic things going on in the world, and it will take you back to a time when life was simpler – so simple that over-imagination was the only way to escape.

The cast includes Amy McCann as Dorothy, who holds her own in one of the entertainment world’s most iconic lead roles. There is a lot of dialogue for the part of Dorothy and young Amy impresses with her delivery of it all. Even when she stutters a couple of times, it adds a genuine element to the perspective of the oft-confused girl who escapes Kansas to venture to the vivid dreamland of Oz.

Battling against what appears to be a haphazardly set-up stage, Vincent Hooper does a dandy good job playing the Lion, providing a couple of the better songs in this production, while Ethan Churchill plays a consistent and sturdy Tin Man.

Now, I’m all for gender role-swapping in contemporary productions of classic stories, but sometimes I think the opportunities to show men in vulnerable roles ought to remain stet. While actor Bella McSporran delivers a decent less timid Scarecrow, the producers’ decision to change the character’s gender from male to female seems perfunctory. Isn’t it better to keep some of literature’s more ‘vulnerable’ representations of men as just that? To me, changing this particular character’s gender ends up weakening the argument for #teamfeminism.

To another main character in the story, it’s great to see the talented Lucy Williamson filling the shoes of the Wicked Witch of the West. At first, it’s kind of confusing hearing Williamson snapping at Dorothy in a tone akin to Judy Garland’s (presumably a wink-wink from the actor since she starred as Judy in The Boy from Oz last year) but once Williamson cuts to full bitch-witch mode, hell hath no fury like an actor chucking a 180-degree turn.

What I later found odd was that a lot of the actors on stage suddenly began adopting accents similar to Garland, or her daughter Liza Minnelli, sometimes even Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, when they really ought to have been honing their best Kansas inflections.

That said, everybody in this show looks like they’re having a wonderful time, reliving classic dialogue and song while occasionally injecting fresh one-liners and lyrics. Those actors that get to play two roles in the one production ought to appreciate the opportunity to express their range while helping translate one of the world’s greatest stories from the printed page to the (haphazardly littered) stage.

Antonino Tati

‘The Wizard of Oz’ in on at Crown Theatre, Burswood, Perth. Tickets start at $69.00 and can be purchased through www.ticketmaster.com.au. Performance times are Wednesdays to Saturdays, 7.30pm and matinees Wednesdays 1pm, Saturdys 2pm, and Sundays 1pm.

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