Over the years there have been countless interpretations of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz,” including the 1939 Oscar-winning film starring Judy Garland. The latest stage adaptation, featuring original music from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, plays Feb. 4-9 at ASU Gammage and includes all the beloved characters along with a few new songs and some high-tech theater magic.
Veteran theater and television actor Jay Brazeau, who plays the Wizard, recently chatted with GetOut about the show, his starring role and Toto.
Q: There are many versions of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ What makes this one different?
JB: They’ve done some really indredible things. They’ve taken the music from Lloyd Webber and melded it with the original production and (added) some video tricks. What’s really wonderful is seeing people who saw it as a movie bring their grandkids for the first time and seeing happy faces leave the theater. I’m very lucky as an actor.
Q: What’s the best part about playing the Wizard?
JB: Being the Wizard is really interesting. You start off in Kansas as Professor Marvel and transform into the Wizard. (It’s) classic Americana. It’s a story that everyone knows. You’re on sacred ground.
Q: You mentioned special high-tech effects. Tell us more.
JB: It’s a mixture of the old and new. It’s where we are in this industry. They’ve got some wonderful tech people, but there’s an old fashioned thing about singing ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow.’ It’s just fantastic to hear these choral arrangements with the symphony.
Q: Is Toto played by a real dog?
JB: We have two dogs that play Toto — they are the best actors in the show. When the dog comes on the stage, the audience goes nuts. It’s a great theatrical moment.
IF YOU GO
What: ”The Wizard of Oz”
When: Opens 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4; runs through Sunday, Feb. 9.
Where: ASU Gammage, 1200 S. Forest Ave., Tempe.
Information: (480) 965-3434 or ASUGammage.com