A mashed-up musical genre is making a bit of splash at the moment – the arena show. Think traditional scripts, scores and costumes – then multiply it by a stadium-size stage and a cast of hundreds!
Harvest Rain Theatre company are championing the way for this new theatrical movement, producing Hairspray and Grease in this format in previous years, and their latest showstopper is The Wizard of Oz, which will tour Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra and Perth over the next 18 months.
The lead cast are up and coming debut artists and familiar faces on small-company professional stages, supported by 900-odd young performers, aged 8 to 18 (ensemble size varies from city to city). They are also joined by a stage and screen icon John Wood, as the Wizard (casting current for Brisbane season).
Even though the majority of these performers might be amateur in their skills, the production values of the show are first class. A wall of digital screens frames the set, filled with amazing visuals by live performance video designers Optikal Bloc. The Projection also transforms the floor from yellow brick road to poppy fields to Emerald City effortlessly, allowing the enormous cast to fill the available spaces and bring the show to life.
The show is put together with each local cast in just a few weeks, marrying the much loved story and songs with some modern theatre tricks, and an enthusiastic and adorable crowd of youngsters, some of whom are on a stage this size for the first time in their lives.
The Brisbane performances are for one weekend only – Friday 12 and Saturday 13 July, and final tickets are still on sale. As it’s shown in an arena setting, no seat is a bad seat, and this type of show is a perfect blend of exuberance and tradition to introduce children to the magic of musicals. Take advantage of the group ticket packages and treat your family to a final school holidays weekend treat!
Visit www.wizardofozarena.com for ticketing information and future dates for other cities.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- The Wizard of Oz (QPAC) – theatre review
- The Wizard of Oz (Capitol) – theatre review
- Grease: The Arena Experience (touring) – theatre review
Belinda Yench is a Brisbane-based writer and communications specialist. She contributes to The Blurb on theatre and film