Something memorable is transpiring at the Viaduct courtesy of those hipsters at the House Theatre, and it isn’t just limited to the onstage visual and theatrical ingenuity of “The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz, ” playwright Phillip C. Klapperich and director/choreographer Tommy Rapley’s inspired reworking of the L. Frank Baum classic novel. What’s truly magical is observing adults of all ages – with cold beers in hand, Cheshire-cat smiles plastered onto their faces and necks craning to catch every inch of action on the yellow-brick road of a stage – surrender with childlike awe to this sublime theatrical experience crafted from a century-old narrative ingrained in the American cultural fabric. Anthropomorphism, wildly imaginative costumes, topical songs, dance and good old fashioned theater tricks will undoubtedly draw comparisons to director Julie Taymor’s “The Lion King.” But whereas that show spirals into dramaturgical Mickey Mouse-banality, “Oz” features good writing that truly entertains and heartfelt performances that uncover the pathos in Baum’s archetypical characters. Ironic one-liners, a darker second act and a beautiful visual homage to the inescapable memory of the movie version give way to a surprisingly unsentimental yet moving finale. Were he alive today, I think Baum himself would be impressed. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
This production is now closed.