Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

The Wizard of Oz
National Tour
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's review of Disgraced

Children old enough to sit still through a two-act musical but young enough to love The Wizard of Oz uncritically are the best audience for the non-Equity touring production of the musical at Washington's National Theatre through May 15—although adaptors Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams have sneaked in a few anachronisms and witty lines for their parents.

Webber and Sams, who also directed, based their adaptation very closely on the classic 1939 film, even using pieces of Herbert Stothart's film underscoring and bookending the vividly colorful Oz scenes with sepia-toned opening and closing moments in Kansas. They also build up the first scene with extensive foreshadowing that Oz-lovers will catch immediately.

The beloved songs by Harold Arlen (music) and E.Y. Harburg (lyrics) are still there, along with some serviceable new ones by Webber and lyricist Tim Rice. Both the Wizard and Professor Marvel (Mark A. Harmon) now have solo numbers, as does the Wicked Witch of the West (Shani Hadjian), whose song ("Red Shoes Blues") sounds like something a Disney villain might sing.

As Dorothy, Sarah Lasko wisely avoids any imitation of Judy Garland. She gives a straightforward performance that shows Dorothy as what she is: a girl in her early teens trying to deal with the uncertainties of growing up. Harmon is suitably pompous, if a little youthful, in both his roles.

Aaron Fried as the Cowardly Lion gets to show off more than the Scarecrow (Morgan Reynolds) or the Tin Man (Jay McGill). Glinda (Rachel Womble) makes her entrance in a sparkling costume that's also part of the scenery (set and costumes both designed by Robert Jones), while the Wicked Witch wears a dark dress that appears to have been made out of leaves and her skin is a garish shade of chartreuse.

Jon Driscoll's video and production design, recreated by Daniel Brodie, and Hugh Vanstone's lighting design bring the audience into the heart of the tornado and provide an ever-present rainbow that occasionally shifts color. Jones has created a clever set with moving parts that allow for quick shifts and his costumes for the Emerald City residents are notable for their detail and shine.

The National Theatre
The Wizard of Oz
May 3rd - 15th
Music by Harold Arlen
Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg
Additional lyrics by Tim Rice
Additional music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams
Dorothy: Sarah Lasko
Professor Marvel/The Wizard: Mark A. Harmon
Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West: Shani Hadjian
Hunk/Scarecrow: Morgan Reynolds
Hickory/Tin Man: Jay McGill
Zeke/Lion: Aaron Fried
Glinda: Rachel Womble
Uncle Henry: Randy Charleville
Auntie Em: Emmanuelle Zeesman
Toto: Nigel
Ensemble: Danielle Behrens, Amy Button, Randy Charleville, Diego Diaz, Will Geoghegan, Lindsey Hailes, Beau Hutchings, Nick Morgan, Justin G. Nelson, Nick Picknally, Dominick Sannelli, Jenna Brooke Scannelli, Maggie Spicer, Alex Swift, Adam Vanek, Kaley Were, Emmanuelle Zeesman, Dorsey Ziller
Directed by Jeremy Sams
Choreographed by Arlene Phillips
The National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 1-800-447-7400 or
For more information on the tour, visit

Privacy Policy