Director Jewels: Starlight Theatre presents The Wizard of Oz: June 10-15 {Review}

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Starlight Theatre presents The Wizard of Oz: June 10-15 {Review}

Disclosure: I received press passes to attend this production at Starlight Theatre. I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own.


As a Kansas City native, I've been a fan of Starlight Theatre for many, many years. I've also heard more than my share of "Toto, we aren't in Kansas anymore" jokes - even though I live on the Missouri side of the state line. If you fly into our airport, you'll be greeted by an array of Wizard of Oz merchandise. So, yeah. Around these parts, we know our Dorothy.

So, of course I was happy to take a trip to Starlight Theatre - Kansas City's amazing outdoor performance venue. It has been several years since I've been to Starlight, and it was a treat to return!

Danielle Wade as Dorothy and Jamie McKnight as Scarecrow. Original Toronto Cast.
Photo by CYLLA VON TIEDEMANN.

 This touring production of The Wizard of Oz was adapted by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and director Jeremy Sams and features new songs by Webber and lyricist Tim Rice. The beloved music from the MGM classic film is included as well, making this production a well-rounded collection of musical styles.

The story is the one that you know and love, but there are lots of new sights to see and jokes to make you smile. Occasionally, there was an original line that was given new direction, as though to change the meaning of what was said. As an example - the "lions and tigers and bears" segment was meant to be entertaining rather than frightful. This probably helped to keep spirits light for all of the young kids in the audience!

The show was very visually stunning, although there was some reliance upon CGI to tell certain parts of the story: the twister, the Wizard, the majority of the flying monkeys, and a few other things. My favorite scenes (visually) were Munchkinland and Emerald City. Emerald City was especially nice - themed in the 1920's with the costumes and dance alluding to gangsters and flapper girls.

Danielle Wade as Dorothy and Jamie McKnight as Scarecrow. Original Toronto Cast.
Photo by CYLLA VON TIEDEMANN.

There will always be changes in any new version of a production, and this was no exception. The differences I noted most were the characters: they were each given new motivations. Sometimes, it worked - sometimes, it didn't. I would have liked the witches to have more back story, instead of seeming like comic relief. I also thought the one curse word used was completely unnecessary and an unpleasant surprise for parents with young children in the audience. The actors' portrayals were well done - I hold more issue with the story than any of the talented cast. It was a treat to see Toto running about on stage!

One of our favorite scenes was the Winkie fight scene/dance near the end of Act II. It was a neat addition to the story and was well-executed. The line dance with their broken staffs was especially impressive!

Danielle Wade as Dorothy, Jamie McKnight as Scarecrow,
Lee MacDougall as Lion, Mike Jackson as Tin Man. Original Toronto Cast.
Photo by CYLLA VON TIEDEMANN.

Starlight, as usual, puts on a great pre-show production. Anyone with a ticket can attend two free events before the curtain lifts! 

The Yellow Brick Bash is a pre-show festival offering games, crafts,
performances, photo opportunities, the Twisted Twister inflatable slide, caricatures and other activities for families and kids of all ages. Located in the group pavilions adjacent to Starlight’s north concourse, the Yellow Brick Bash is open 6-8 p.m. each night.

Inspired by Toto (Nigel’s) story of adoption success, Starlight is partnering with five Kansas City area pet shelters and agencies to host the Take Home Toto on-site dog adoption event. From 6-8 p.m. every night but opening night, shelter volunteers will introduce adoptable dogs to Starlight guests in the Helzberg Fountain and Garden of the Stars area on the theatre’s east side. Starlight patrons can talk with agency representatives, learn about available dogs and begin the adoption application process if they find their perfect four-legged match.

Overall, the production is a fantastic start to the summer season at Starlight and is fun for the whole family. If you are looking for something to do this weekend, you can find tickets at KC Starlight. I can't wait to have more fun under the Kansas City stars at Starlight this summer!


Thanks to Starlight Theatre for providing my tickets to the show. I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

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