Last night, my daughter and I were treated to an AMAZING theater production — Kimmel Broadway Philadelphia’s The Wizard of Oz at The Academy of Music in Philly.
I have to admit, I was dreading the drive into the city last night, but I’m so glad I put my big girl pants on and did it. It was an amazing show and a great time for bonding with my 11-year-old daughter. I have been to a lot of theater productions over the years, although we often go to the smaller local theaters. This Broadway production was in a whole other league. I feel so blessed to live near a city like Philadelphia that has this caliber of cultural experiences to offer our family and particularly our kids.
My younger daughter accompanied me to the Tea with Dorothy event a few weeks ago so she got first dibs on last night’s performance, but she decided at the last minute that she didn’t want to go so I took my older daughter instead. It worked out really well. In fact, I think the show is more appropriate for her age group anyway, and it was really special to be able to share it with her.
Of course, nothing I do is without drama. I swear I don’t go looking for it. But this is too hilarious not to share, and fortunately, there’s a happy ending. So I got us all the way to the city in nasty rush hour traffic (what should be a 50-minute drive took 90), stopped into The Palm at the Hyatt Bellevue to grab a bite to eat (holy sticker shock, Batman!!), and then we got to the theater just in time for the show to start. We posed for our obligatory photo (see above) and then when I handed my tickets to the ladies at the door, I was informed my tickets were for tonight, not not last night. My poor daughter. She just shook her head and said, “This stuff ALWAYS happens to my mom.” True. I’m forever messing up dental appointments, and once we got halfway into the city for a ballgame and realized I’d left our tickets at home. I don’t know why I can’t get my act together.
The ticket takers (what are they called?) just smiled and assured me that it happens all the time. They told me to see the men at the ticket booth, and that they would probably be able to help me. Fortunately for me the show was not sold out and the nice guys at the ticket counter exchanged my tickets for ones for tonight. They were also totally sweet about it, so kudos to the staff at The Academy of Music in Philly for being gracious to this frazzled mom. All’s well that ends well, right?
Look at this gorgeous old theater. I love living near a city with so much rich history.
As for the show, it is everything you would expect from an Andrew Lloyd Webber production. I love that it includes all the music from the original and doesn’t veer away from the iconic storyline, and yet they added some lines that make it feel current and lend some humor that was not part of the movie. At one point the wicked witch appears in the balcony and interacts a bit with the audience, which is fun.
The production is phenomenal; they do an amazing job with screens and video effects to create the tornado and flying monkeys and the Great Oz. It is definitely 21st century theater. If you’re a purist, that might bother you, but I found the special effects to be really cool.
The actors are absolutely spot on. The actresses who play Dorothy and the two witches have remarkable vocal talent, and Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion are hysterical. My daughter, the dog lover, was absolutely obsessed with the little dog that plays Toto.
I do have two minor issues with the production that I feel are worth noting. This show is being marketed to families with kids, and yet there is a scene with the wicked witch and all her minions that is subtly sexual. I think that’s unnecessary. Then there is one line when she uses the word damn. I am not a prude about language when it fits, but it seemed so completely out of place for this show, like it was placed there simply for the purpose of making it more modern… or something. It was weird, and given that it’s a show that is being marketed to families with young kids, I thought it was in poor taste.
But overall it was an absolutely spectacular show, and if you have the opportunity to see one of these productions, I HIGHLY recommend it. I would caution that it’s a bit scary in parts for very young kids. I was glad that my 11-year-old was with me and not my 8-year-old, although I think she would have liked it and it would have been fine. But I wouldn’t advise it for kids much younger than that.
If you are local and enjoy live theater, I highly recommend looking into tickets for The Wizard of Oz. I’ve got an email out, asking for information about other cities. I will add that when I get it.
Press passes were provided for promotional purposes but all opinions are my own.