© N.Y. Times
`Wizard of Oz' continues at Madison Square Garden
By Peter Marks
THE STAGE adaptation, which appropriates the unforgettable movie score by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, was first presented several years ago at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn where Johanson is the artistic director. All it really does is remind you what a miracle of invention the movie was, and how treacherous it can be to toy with the memory of the mythic performances by Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Margaret Hamilton, Billie Burke and Frank Morgan.
Not that the stage cast is bad. Jessica Grove, a 15-year-old high school student from Columbus, Ohio, is a suitable Dorothy, with a winning manner, supple voice and even some of the young Garland's vocal inflections. Ken Page, Lara Teeter and Michael Gruber, as the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and Tinman, all diplomatically acknowledge their illustrious predecessors in respectful re-creations. (Gruber, in particular, does well by an understated tap routine to "If I Only Had a Heart.") And as Toto, a terrier named Plenty has it all over any other pooch currently working on a New York stage. (Confidential to Sandy: Get with it! Your competition delivers the goods!)
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