The Camarata Music Company’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” opened last weekend at the Seoul Center for Culture and Tourism in Myeongdong and will run through June 23rd. The hardworking casts (there are two full casts that alternate performances) are made up almost entirely of expats with solid backgrounds in music and performing. Indulge your inner child and head off to see the good Wizard. Here’s Chincha’s reasons why it’s worth it.
#1 Witness Kids Seeing the Story the First Time: The show is drawing a lot of kids; many of whom have never seen “The Wizard of Oz,” before. Watch them marvel at Glinda in her whorl of bubbles and chiffon and cower with the Lion at Oz’s scary faces. Overheard at my showing: “I don’t like that green lady.”
#2 Real Toto! Though he’s rumored to be a bit of a diva offstage, Drevyn, a perfect Toto doppelganger for the role, appears interchangeably with a prop Toto throughout the show.
#3 Stellar Headgear: Glinda’s crown looks like a papal hat by way of Lady Gaga. It’s impressive to watch actress Amy Harmon balance it with ease. And forget cowardly, the Lion’s beehive-high flowing mane cascades past his shoulders for a look that teeters on Rastafarian.
#4 Hoop Action: Ensemble member Mary Jarrett is versed in the art of hula hoop. In “The Merry Old Land of Oz” she dazzles the audience with a lighted hula hoop dance you won’t remember from the Judy Garland original. Consider it a bonus.
#5 Old Brooklyn Accents: “The Wizard of Oz” wouldn’t be the show that it was without the accents. Glinda’s squeaky Continental lilt, Elmira Gulch/The Wicked Witch’s somewhat-Southern snarl and the Lion and Scarecrow’s roundabout vowelled “Old Brooklyn” accent. If you’re getting confused: contemporary Brooklyn/Staten Island/ metro New York accent sounds somewhere in between Tony Danza and Tony Soprano while Old Brooklyn sounds like…the Newsies. New: “fuhgeddaboudit” Old: “if I only had the noihve.” Michael Perez nails the accent as the perpetually bewildered Scarecrow, while Cody Wilson as the Lion does proper vocal homage to Bert Lahr, the original “King of the Fahrest.”
#6 Multimedia Magic Making: For a community production, Camarata Music Company worked overtime on incorporating video and lighting effects into the production. It works best for the scene with Oz and our four heroes while Alan Timblick as Oz in dark eyebrows and purplish-green face makeup mugs for the audience, flashing sinister grins and grimaces in between his lines.
#7 Reflect on Your Life in the Emerald City: Director Susan Morgan compared Seoul to The Emerald City (although, “We get up at 12 and start to work at 1/ Take and hour for lunch and then at two we’re done/Jolly good fun!” it’s safe to say no Seoulites are keeping that work schedule) and Dorothy’s Kansas nostalgia to the perpetual plight of the expat. No matter how many times you’ve seen it before, seeing the story in Seoul will tug at your feelings for your own personal Kansas, wherever that may be.
The non-profit performances of the Wizard of Oz will be at the Myeong-dong M Plaza on weekends in June. Tickets are still available by emailing or by calling 010-9146-0727 .
Words by Charlotte Hammond
Photo courtesy of Camarata Music Company