Wizard of Oz and Good Theatre Tech
I went to see The Wizard of Oz at the Citadel last night, and it was pretty good. The casting was well done, most of the singing was top-notch, the munchkin children were adorable, the dog was perfectly trained, and the design was visually very interesting. My only complaint is the same complain I have of every Bob Baker show that involves a lot of tech, which is that he doesn’t seem to know how to fill those tech-heavy moments with interest to deflect from the fact that you’re waiting for the tech to finish. Glinda flies in, but it takes too long for her to get to the ground, and they hold the dialogue until she does. Flying is cool, yes, but not really on its own unless there’s acrobatics involved. If you’re just bringing in Glinda and having her pose stiffly while you do it, why wait for the dialogue?
I like tech. I love tech. That’s why I went to technical theatre school. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of good tech in this show. But sometimes it was just tech for the sake of tech, which makes it feel tacked-on. Bob Baker is having this love affair with video projection right now, which can be really cool, but it can also just as easily slow everything down. At what could have been a point of high action during the tornado, everything slowed down to accommodate a too-long video interlude while Dorothy was flipped around half-heartedly on a bed, so the whole scene fell flat and over-extended for what it was. Good tech should be fully integrated, cohesive, and above all never displace or slow the drama; if it does, it should probably be re-examined or cut.