If you’ve watched “The Wizard of Oz” on TV or DVD a hundred times – and who hasn’t? – then you’ll feel right at home with Moonlight Stage Production’s musical, originally adapted for the Royal Shakespeare Company. It’s practically note-for-note and line-for-line, which is a double-edged sword. Fans of the film, young and old, will feel like they’re watching their favorite movie live and in person. But with the familiarity comes a lack of surprises (not to mention the lack of Judy Garland).
There is one bonus in this musical adaptation: the inclusion of a song-and-dance number that was cut from the motion picture. “The Jitterbug,” presented early in Act 2, finds Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion singing and jitterbugging in the dark forest on the way to the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle. This song is no “Over the Rainbow,” but at least it’s something different from the film we all know so well.
The Moonlight production also offers faithful orchestration (conducted by Elan McMahan) of the Harold Arlen-E.Y. Harburg film score, along with additional background music by Herbert Stothart, and lively choreography by Roger Castellano, who also directs. Randall Dodge rocks as the Cowardly Lion, though Carlin Castellano appears too mature to be a believable Dorothy, and Danette Holland merely channels Margaret Hamilton as the Witch.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.