Zilker Theatre’s ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is fun for parents and their munchkins

It’s hard to think of a movie musical more classic or family-friendly than 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz.” The movie, based on writer L. Frank Baum’s novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” has proven so popular over the decades that it was adapted into a stage production by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1987.

Andrew Cannata, Hannah Roberts and Jordan Barron perform in “The Wizard of Oz,” the 59th annual Zilker summer musical presented by Zilker Theatre Productions. (TAMIR KALIFA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The resulting show, with a book by John Kane (adapted from Baum as well as the screenplay by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf), music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, and background music by Herbert Stothart, has since become a standard across the UK and the United States.

PHOTOS: ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at Zilker Hillside Theater

Zilker Theatre Productions’ latest free summer musical, running through Aug. 12 at the Zilker Hillside Theater, is a new production of this version of “The Wizard of Oz.” This is the 59th annual Zilker Summer Musical, and the most expensive show to date, with a great deal of that money clearly going toward creating the magic of Oz as experienced by naïve young Dorothy Gale, a Kansas farm girl transported to the other-dimensional realm via a convenient tornado. Through liberal doses of both theatrical innovation and beautiful carpentry and design, director J. Robert Moore and scenic designer Paul Davis effectively evoke both the plainness of Kansas (pun intended) and the splendor of Oz.

Much like the movie it is based on, Bilker’s “The Wizard of Oz” is long on broad, entertaining character types and short on actual character development. However, the zany antics of Dorothy and her companions (the “brainless” Scarecrow, “heartless” Tin Man, and “courageless” Cowardly Lion) play well in the open-air atmosphere of the Zilker Hillside Theater, with its huge, all-ages audience.

The main cast of the show all give big, broad performances that would be over-the-top in a small theater, but work nicely in this context. Andrew Cannata, Jordan Barron and Kirk Kelso, as the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, respectively, are vaudevillian in their physical comedy and banter, while Emily Perzan’s Wicked Witch delights more in being comedic than overtly scary.

MORE PHOTOS: The Zilker Summer Musical through the years

The production’s Dorothy, Hannah Roberts, is a star on the rise. She embodies the character’s youth and naivety in a charming, guileless manner, a complete turn-around from her delightfully dour portrayal of Wednesday Addams in last year’s Summer Stock Austin production of “The Addams Family.” She only manages to get upstaged by the exuberant full-cast numbers, which inventively feature children as the Munchkins of Oz performing the whimsical choreography of Adam Roberts (who is also the show’s musical director).

Zilker’s production of “The Wizard of Oz goes” beyond the show, itself, in order to create a full night of family entertainment. There are booths and amusements for kids to enjoy before the show, as well as refreshments that can be purchased both ahead of time and at intermission. Remember to bring a blanket and pillows along with some bug spray, and be sure to arrive early to pick out a good spot on the hillside.

MORE SUMMER FUN:

Where to get frozen drinks in Austin

5 hotel pools with passes for free hours for locals

Summer music: All the sounds under the sun, through September

 

 

What to hear at the Austin Symphony next season

There’s no other way to present the 2017-2018 season of the Austin Symphony without publishing the list in its entirety. Or close to that.

There’s a lot on here to celebrate, including the return of Austin’s top concert pianist, Anton Nel, to the marquee; another stab at “Beyond the Score,” this time dramatizing the background behind Prokofiev‘s Symphony No. 5; and the beginnings of the Bernstein at 100 celebration.

img_2388-781508

MASTERWORKS SERIES

September 8-9, 2017

Anton Nel, piano/harpsichord

FRANCIS POULENC – Suite from Les biches (The Does)
W. A. MOZART – Piano Concerto No. 15 in B-Flat Major, K. 450
FRANCIS POULENC – Concert champêtre for Harpsichord and Orchestra
W. A. MOZART – Symphony No. 31 in D Major, K. 297 Paris

October 6-7, 2017

Bruce Williams, viola
Julia Taylor, soprano
Claudia Chapa, mezzo-soprano
Brian Yeakley, tenor
Charles Evans, baritone
Chorus Austin (Ryan Heller, director)

BEETHOVEN/BRUCKNER – Piano Sonata in C Minor, Op. 13, Pathétique
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS – Flos Campi
MAHLER/BRITTEN – What the Wild Flowers Tell Me
ANTON BRUCKNER – Te Deum

December 1-2, 2017

Beyond the Score®

SERGEI PROKOFIEV – Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100

January 12-13, 2018

Bella Hristova, violin

GIOACHINO ROSSINI – Overture to Semiramide
J. S. BACH – Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. in G Major, BWV 1048
IGOR STRAVINSKY – Violin Concerto in D Major
ALAN HOVHANESS – Celestial Fantasy, Op. 44
JOSEPH HAYDN – Symphony No. 94 in G Major, Surprise

February 23-24, 2018

Rick Rowley, piano

ROBERT SCHUMANN – Manfred Overture
EDWARD MACDOWELL – Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 23
ROBERT SCHUMANN – Symphony No. 2. in C Major, Op. 61

March 23-24, 2018
Cameron Carpenter, organ

JOSEPH JONGEN – Symphonie concertante for Organ and Orchestra
CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS – Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78 Organ

April 13-14, 2018
Vadim Gluzman, violin

MICHAEL TORKE – Bright Blue Music
LEONARD BERNSTEIN – Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN – Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67

May 18-19, 2018
Olga Kern, piano

TCHAIKOVSKY/STRAVINSKY – Pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY – Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Major, Op. 44
SERGEI RACHMANINOFF – Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 44
SARAH AND ERNEST BUTLER POPS SERIES

Friday, October 20, 2017

Disney FANTASIA: Live in Concert

Disney shares one of its crown jewels of feature animation with a live orchestra concert accompanying scenes from Walt Disney’s original FANTASIA (1940) and Disney FANTASIA 2000, highlighting a selection of the magnificent repertoire from both films including Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite.

December 29-30, 2017

I Heart the 80’s

Come have the time of your life with music from The Police, George Michael, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and so much more! Bring your favorite food dish and enjoy this concert in a cabaret style setting.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Jurassic Park – Film with Orchestra

One of the most thrilling science fiction adventures ever made, and featuring one of John Williams’ most iconic and beloved musical scores, Jurassic Park transformed the movie-going experience for an entire generation and became the highest-grossing film of all time in 1993, winning three Academy Awards®. Now audiences can experience this ground-breaking film as never before: projected in HD with a full symphony orchestra performing Williams’ magnificent score live to picture. Welcome… to Jurassic Park!

June 1-2, 2018

The Rat Pack! 100 Years of Frank!

It’s hot! It’s cool! These performances celebrate the classic songs of Sinatra, Davis, and Martin, like “That’s Amore,” “The Lady is a Tramp,” “Mr. Bojangles,” “My Way,” and of course, “New York, New York” with brand new orchestrations. Choreographed and scripted with original Rat Pack routines, you’ll think you’re swingin’ at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. Bring your favorite food dish and enjoy this concert in a cabaret style setting.

FAMILY CONCERTS

  • Halloween Children’s Concert – October 29, 2017
  • Christmas in the Community – TBD
  • Texas Young Composers Concert – TBD

SPECIAL EVENTS

  • Handel’s Messiah – December 12, 2017