I was looking forward to the stage recreation of one of the greatest movies of all time “The Wizard of Oz”. The promotional material promised a show “presented with breathtaking special effects that will sweep the audience away” Well much of the audience did sweep away, as group after group headed for the exit throughout the first act of a production suffering from unsurmountable sound problems.
There was a foreshadowing of trouble when the doors did not open until after the advertised curtain time. Then as we waited for the production to begin there were several loud sound explosions that were heart stopping. When CEO of Performing Arts Fort Worth Dione Kennedy took the stage to promote upcoming attractions her mic failed to work. Sadly, it would only get worse.
While this production's sound (and they insisted on using their own system, not the state of the art system recently installed in the hall) was not the only problem, it was the greatest. There were glimmers of hope, but they were few and far between. The Sets were amateurish, on par with what I would expect to see at at a regional or community theater, not on a national tour that is advertising itself as a Broadway show. This show would have trouble off Broadway, very off Broadway, say Alabama. The costumes were equally unimpressive.
There was no continuity in the sound levels. Some sound effects were ridiculously loud, others not, and still many special effects and sounds were very obviously not there at all. The tin man's oiling was so loud and so off, that it appeared half way through the sound man just gave up. But wait, no, towards the end of the sequence he tried again. The Wicked Witch's first appearance on the stage while in the promo happens in a cloud of smoke, here the sound was there, but no smoke.
One of the highlights of the first act was when the Wicked Witch looked down to proclaim the ruby slippers were gone, only they weren't. They were there plain as day, wait, minutes later they were pulled under the house with a loud bang when the door there to hide them slammed shut. At least I got to laugh about something.
The show was not without it's positives, Patrick Pevehouse as the scarecrow, and Brent Wakelin as the Lion were a bright spot. Laurie Pascale as the Wicked Witch of The West was great fun, her laugh was perfection. I would tell you it got better in the second act, but like so many others I made a bee line for the exit.
The Bass has some amazing things coming like An Evening with Joan Rivers, November 2nd-this is a must see! Plus Shrek The Musical November 8 through November 13 and Irving Berlins' White Christmas November 29 through December 4th. And if you are so inclined the Wizard of Oz Tour plays through Sunday. Tickets are $33.-$82.50. Tickets to all offerings are available at http://www.basshall.com/
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