Last night, the family and I went and saw Salty Dinner's interpretation of The Wizard of Oz. It is an amalgamation of the famous movie starring Judy Garland and the actual book written by L. (stands for Lyman) Frank Baum. The script itself took the liberty of existing as a self-aware entity. Salty Dinner's past shows have focused on a book and then had the author of the book be a narrator of sorts. The characters ask questions of the author pertaining to what they are experiencing in the book and the author explains them away. This is an interesting style as it allows the company to dabble in bringing together otherwise anachronistic concepts together in harmony. The Wizard of Oz managed to merge the copyright laws from Metro Goldwyn Mayer about not being able to say "Ruby slippers" or "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" to questions as to why one of the "best loved Children's Books of all time" had chapters where the Tin man lobs of the heads of dozens of wolves. Of course, as a writer, I started coming up with my own tangential dialogue in my head...maybe Baum could have explained that at least he wasn't into self-mutilation like the original Cinderella where the step sisters cut off their own toes and heels...but I digress.
All of the characters were believable in their own portrayal of their unique and twisted characters. There were only 3 things that were a bit off for me. One, Ryan (who played all of his numerous parts brilliantly...especially the censor guy) was hard to understand as the Mouse Queen...it might have been the nose...but his words were a bit rushed at times. Secondly, I found it odd that they gave an audience member a whistle and then actually had the stage manager blow it instead. A thought might be to buy a bag of plastic disposable whistles at a dollar or party store and then give the audience member a list of the words to listen for. Just a thought. The last was actually the audience...which I was a part of. Audiences are characters...if you get enough people relaxing and enjoying themselves then the actors in turn do a better job. Some audiences are really tough and there is nothing you can do to win them over...however, if an actor treats the audience with true and real interest during the mingling before the show and throughout the rest of the show...then they will warm to you. Some of the characters did this wonderfully and some...simply put...did not.
My kids really loved it. Salty Dinner does a great job of bringing the audience into the show and they made my kids night when they were brought up on stage as the Munchkins.
As for the food, I was not happy. The beans were just yucky and I love good steamed green beans...also, my meat was really rare and Madeline's didn't ask how I wanted it cooked. I do understand that because there was a show going on that the waiters were scarce but after I got my food... I never saw her again. I just wanted a refill on my Dr. Pepper...is that too much to ask?
Overall, the formula seems to be working for Salty Dinner. I think people like to go and see something that they are already familiar with and see how it is changed to fit dinner theatre and modern humor. At Poison Ivy, it has been hard to get people to come and see something that they have never seen or heard of before. This is why Broadway shows sell CDs and music WAAAY before it comes out on Broadway so that people are familiar with the work a bit. Anyway, as owner of one Theatre Company to another, I am excited to keep seeing shows at Salty Dinner Theatre and to work together to bring good and different entertainment to Utah!
The faults that I found with the show weren't the fault of the actors or director. Whomever "orchestrated" the music didn't do a good job.