Wizard of Oz & Orchestra of Welsh National Opera
St David’s Hall
Sunday 10th September 2017
It’s September again – that time of year when people have returned from half interesting holidays and children have returned to school. The theatre scene in Cardiff picks up after the summer lull and we are treated to the arrival of autumnal treasures such as this.
The Wizard of Oz needs little introduction. A repeat TV offender every Xmas and revered as one of cinemas great achievements, it’s timelessness and good spirit are what makes it one for the whole family. Whilst younger audiences may know the lore through the Wicked musical/books or The Return to Oz (longest sequel wait in history!), the lore is known as well as the mise-en-scene of the film itself. L Franck Baum’s creation on page lives forever on the screen in a hard to resist, beautifully crafted film.
There have been varying interpretations of what Oz really means. Some claim it’s a story about Capitalism, others file it under psychological treatment. Most would see it as the tale it is and that is fine upon itself. One of David Lynch’s favourite films, it’s easy to see the influence in his work of dreams, dwarf actors and wacky antics, mirrored with a dark side as well. The phrase “We live inside a dream” from the polarising finale of Twin Peaks resonates in the final scene of Oz where (spoilers) it was all a dream.
The effects still hold up. The Twister scene is horrific in its realistic appearance and with recent events in Texas it’s hard not to relate the two, since the southern states have always been plighted with hurricanes and tornadoes. Even the day Judy Garland died there was a twister in Kansas…
If you don’t know the story, you may have lived under a rock. Dorothy who lives with her uncle and aunty, are visited by the awful Miss Gulch who was bitten by Toto. She demands Toto be destroyed and demands Dorothy give the dog up. After some back and forth with the dog coming back and them both running off, they are stuck as a Twister ventures towards the house, knocking it off it’s foundations.
Flying high into the sky the house lands in the land of Oz, a magical place of Munchkins and Witches. The journey is to the Wizard who should be able to get them both home and find what her gang are also after: The Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. The road is long and they encounter many odd creatures, all the while been stopped by The Wicked Witch. Dorothy’s quest to go home, may have not been needed after all and she declares the mortal line: “There’s no place like home”
Faced with a classic film and large, live orchestra is a glorious encounter. The forces of WNO did great justify to the brilliant music of Harold Arlen and Herbert Stothart. Many a thrilling moment was had in their playing. It can be dubbed a soupy affair with giddy children in costumes and the rustle of sweet wrappers does ebb and flow into the event. Perhaps a relaxed concert would also be recommended as well?
The spirit of the event is in the kiddies who have seen it ten times or are seeing it for the first time live. Fantastic either way.
One can only hope we get more screenings like this.
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