Wizard of Oz starring Ballet Memphis

It is not always that in dance you marvel at the beauty of simplicity, but this was the case in Ballet Memphis’ version of the Wizard of Oz.


Free Speaking of Dance with Michael Uthoff and Wizard of Oz choreographer Steven McMahon

Devoid of any ostentatious scenery and costumes, with a small group of committed dancers and a choreographer that went to his youthful roots to device a charming evening of dance, a magical production ensued that captivated children and adults alike. The narrative line was pretty close to the movies’ and therefore everyone could follow without problems.

I did feel that the opening scene was somewhat weak and though the Tornado was cleverly dealt with, it was the one moment that more should have happened. It is possible that Ballet Memphis took for granted everyone’s knowledge of the story, and therefore I was interested to see how people would respond to the ongoings if unfamiliar with the plot line.  I think some audience members could not totally define the plot as I was doing and perhaps their enjoyment was not as great.

The company presented two casts of Dorothy’s and Witches and each brought a different quality to the work. One could choose one over the other, but I do not think it would be fair.

Virginia Pilgrim and Dylan G-Bowley of Ballet Memphis

Virginia Pilgrim and Dylan G-Bowley of Ballet Memphis

The Young People’s Performance and the Matinee, both filled to the brim had kids smiling ear to ear and parents proud for having made the decision to bring them to the BALLET. Many chose to dress like one of their favorite characters and that added a special feeling to those of us standing at intermission watching the crowds.

As Toto went on the ride to Oz inside of Dorothy’s basket, I was hoping that as total surprise to the audience, when she “landed” back in Kansas and came out of the house, Toto would run from the wing and leap unto her arms. But, not every dance company can travel with a trained dog.

Now, we look forward to seeing Ballet Memphis in May at our 7th Annual SPRING TO DANCE® FESTIVAL 2014. They will be closing our Thursday evening show (May 22, 2014) and all those who became their friends in route to OZ should welcome them as they return to the Touhill.

Diavolo and Alvin Ailey are still to grace our stage, what a treat awaits! Don’t miss either of them.


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