by Manju Sampat
Vishaal Asrani’s Institute of Performing Arts in association with The Pioneer Drama Company (U.S.A) and supported by the Trinity College London presented the classic musical The Wizard of Oz, this weekend in Balgandharva Rang Mandir Bandra.
Directed by Vishaal Asrani And Jiji Subi,, this spectacular production has been performed in the grand Broadway musical style. With fantastic sets, spectacular LED screen projections and breathtaking special effects, this show rivals anything one might see on London’s West End or New York’s Broadway, both considered theatre Meccas. The costumes designed by Vishaal, Jiji, and the Big Mama Studio, Bangkok, are most creative and colourful. The varied hued wigs, dresses, sunglasses, and in fact all the costumes are quite outstanding, though special mention must be made of the Tinman’s and Glinda’s outfits.
This musical unfolds, as the ‘king of magical creatures’, Oberon and his band of pixies, promise to take the audience on a a magical ride, and what a ride it turns out to be! The Wizard of Oz is a wonderful story about a young girl Dorothy (Avantika Kampani) and her talking dog Toto, who are blown away by a hurricane from their hometown Blossomdale, where everything is in black and white. Dorothy yearns to go to the Land of rainbows and colours. She sings the beautiful song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, immortalised by Judy Garland and then, quite by magic a Twister lands them in the beautiful land of Oz, which is indeed under a rainbow! Avantika was excellent as Dorothy, and she has a lovely singing voice as well.
Dorothy meets the good Witch Glinda (superbly played by Aneesha Shah). Glinda descends on to the stage in a most dramatic fashion, she literally comes down from the heavens in a giant orb! Glinda is a real Tech savvy witch, with with her own Twitter account and is most conversant with a cell phone as well. Aneesha gave this role all the zing and pizzaz it required! When Dorothy asks her how she and Toto could go back home, she advises them to meet the Wizard of Oz as he is the only one who could grant their wish. She gives Dorothy a beautiful pair of red ruby slippers as their magical powers would protect her in her travels. Along the Yellow Brick road, Dorothy meets the Tin Woodman, (Bhavpreet Singh), who is made completely of tin, a scarecrow with no brains, and a cowardly lion (Anuja Sanghvi). Together they set off to meet the Wizard and an amazing adventure begins. Does the wizard give the four friends what they want? The Tin Woodman, a heart so that he could feel emotions, the lion, some courage, and the scarecrow, a brain and Dorothy, a way to go home. This is the roller coaster ride that Dorothy and her band of magical friends take us on.
With moving sets, LED screens, amazing costumes, foot tapping music, spectacular dancing and super special effects, this show to the Emerald city in Oz, was superbly orchestrated by the show’s cast and crew. All the actors including the munchkins, the flying monkeys and of course the Wizard of Oz were wonderful, as was The Wicked Witch of the West (Neelima Mehra). The musical has satire, comedy, a lovely story, backed by great acting, what more could one ask for. Make sure you catch this show when it is staged in future!