Off to See “The Wizard of Oz” at Clowes Hall

I am told I was a tiny toddler the first time I pulled my mini rocking chair up in front of the TV set and watched “The Wizard of Oz,” completely enchanted and mesmerized by Dorothy, her companions, and those unbelievably sparkly ruby slippers.
I became a true Oz nerd, reading about the making of the movie, collecting Oz mementos and appearing in various school and community theatre productions no less than four times (first as a munchkin, twice as Glinda the Good Witch, and last winter as an Ozian/ensemble member.)
WizardOfOz-ClowesHall-Indy'sChildTaking my daughters to see the Broadway Across America production at Clowes Memorial Hall on the Butler University campus last night was such a treat. The whole cold, gray day went by faster since I knew the yellow brick road was beckoning later in the evening.
This production is an updated, colorful, inventive adaptation of the all-time classic. It includes the beloved Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg songs from the Oscar®-winning movie score, all the favorite characters and iconic moments, but some surprises along the way, including new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
One of those added songs, “Already Home,” sung by Glinda, Dorothy and the ensemble right before she gets sent back to Kansas (sorry: Spoiler alert!), made me wonder why there was no big production number at the end of the movie in the first place. It was a beautiful moment wrapping up the Oz adventure and celebrating that swell of emotion as Dorothy says her goodbyes to the land of Oz.
I made sure to remind my daughters that there would be things in this version that are different from the movie:
One of the most notable changes was the costuming and character development of the two witches. (Hint: there is no bubble-gum pink dress for Glinda, but her silvery-blue glitteriffic gown is stunning, and during the amazing floating entrance she makes from high above the stage, I tore my eyes off the amazing spectacle on stage just to watch my daughters’ priceless reactions.)


If your kiddos are easily scared, beware that there are pyrotechnics, loud noises, dramatic light projections creating impressive effects such as the tornado, flying monkeys, and the Wizard in his chamber (who my daughter Clara declared to be “very wizardy.” Indeed.) We loved every second.
Even with all those bells, whistles, and million-watt rainbows, this show comes down to one very simple moment for me: Does Dorothy deliver on “Over the Rainbow?”
Oh yes, she does.
I loved this Dorothy (Sarah Lasko), and the way she brought the iconic Kansas farm girl to life. Her voice is spectacular, subtly riding the highs and lows of that beautiful song. She did the perfect job giving Dorothy childlike innocence and sweetness without sounding whiny, keeping up high energy all the way up and down the long yellow brick road, and wrangling her adorable sidekick Toto like a pro. All of this is no small feat!
The audience was on its feet as the actors took their bows.
I loved seeing a fresh new take on my favorite story.
I loved watching my daughters sing along to the songs.
I loved the way our eyes lit up when magical moments happened.
Although there is no place like home, I would highly recommend a little escape to Oz – especially during a gray January in Indiana!


MORE INFO: The Broadway Across America – Indianapolis performance of Wizard Of Oz runs through Sunday, January 17 at Clowes Memorial Hall, located on the campus of Butler University at 4602 Sunset Avenue, Indianapolis. Performances are 1/14 at 7:30pm, 1/15 at 8pm, 1/16 at 2pm and 8pm, and 1/17 at 1pm and 6:30pm. Tickets start at $28. Call {317} 940-6444 or visit their website for details. {Production photo credits with thanks to: Broadway Across America.}




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