Sandy • If you’ve seen the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz,” there’s not much new in Hale Centre Theatre’s production. It’s a faithful adaptation of the film.
But this is theater — a different experience — and HCT goes big, with moments that inject magic into the story of Dorothy Gale’s trip over the rainbow to the land of Oz.
Thanks to the wizards who built and run the Centre Stage theater at Hale’s location in Sandy, the stage rotates, sections rise and fall, sets ascend and descend, yellow brick roads extend from the corners of the theater-in-the-round, and everything from wicked witches to houses, a big balloon and an unexplained biplane flies or floats overhead.
And it’s all seamless, which is pretty amazing. Production on the 1939 movie lasted more than six months, with cast and crew working up to 18 hours a day, six days a week. Hale re-creates the film in less than 2½ hours (including an intermission) a dozen times a week.
(The show runs through Feb. 2, but only a limited number of tickets are still available — most of the remaining performances are sold out.)
It’s a marvel — and here are its top six whiz-bang (or is that wiz-bang?) moments:
1. THE CYCLONE is a wonder to behold. More impressive than the 1939 movie special effects, it features the stage revolving and going up and down, mist and lasers. You'd swear you can feel the wind, although there isn't any.
Dorothy flies through the air. So does Miss Gulch on her bicycle — just like in the movie. And then the Wicked Witch on her broom. It’ll give you chills.
2. THE FIELD OF POPPIES, which Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tinman, the Cowardly Lion and Toto encounter as they approach the Emerald City, is a riot of red. The huge flowers are so bewitching — and the huge confetti explosion so diverting — that it takes a moment to realize that some of those flowers are women whose hats are giant poppies.
Not only is the Wicked Witch of the West circling above on her broom, but Glinda floats in to put the freeze on the deadly poppies — accompanied by gymnasts performing while dangling from the ceiling on aerial silks. It’s like something out of a big Las Vegas show.
3. THE “JITTERBUG” song-and-dance number was edited out of the 1939 film, though most stage productions include it. It’s in Hale’s production in a big way — a dozen dancers in bright, neon costumes “attacking” (aka dancing with) Dorothy and her friends amid lasers and smoke. They’re sent by the witch to take the fight out of the little troupe before the Winged Monkeys put Dorothy and Toto into a cage, which rises into the rafters.
4. DOROTHY’S ARRIVAL IN OZ is almost unbelievably colorful, with a lot of the color coming from Munchkins disguised as flowers. The costumes are great, and so is the choreography — not just the movements of the actors/dancers, but the movements of the stage itself.
5. GLINDA THE GOOD walks out onstage only once. In her other appearances, she descends from above in a huge circle, complete with flashing lights. No, it’s not the bubble that Glinda rode in on in the movie, but it’s a fine adaptation. It is, ahem, magical.
6. MELTING THE WITCH goes exactly as you expect. Yeah, the blue confetti that Dorothy throws on the Wicked Witch of the West is, well, underwhelming, but the witch “melting away” in the mist, leaving behind just her hat and robe, is perfect.
“The Wizard of Oz”
Where • Hale Centre Theatre, 9900 S. Monroe St., Sandy
When • Monday-Saturday through Feb. 2, with matinee, evening and Saturday morning performances
Tickets • $49; $25 for youth ages 5-17; at the box office, 801-984-9000 or hct.org (children ages 3-4 are only permitted to attend Saturday 9 a.m. performances)