Holiday magic at The Grand Theatre
I am a huge believer in the value of instilling in our children a love of live theatre. This month, my family was blessed to receive tickets to go see The Wizard of Oz at the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario. Now, anyone who knows me knows that The Wizard of Oz is my favourite movie ever, so I was more than a little excited and I knew my fam-jam would be, too.
If you have mobility issues, let me break down the accessibility features of The Grand Theatre for you. First of all, the theatre is at street level, with automatic doors leading into the building. When we entered, a very lovely gentleman welcomed us and told me where to find an accessible bathroom should I need one. Turns out this was very good news, and we proceeded to the accessible bathroom which was just around the corner from the entrance. The bathroom was spacious and very clean. I could easily move around with the wheelchair in the bathroom (not always the case, even in accessible bathrooms, let me tell you). But enough about the bathroom. Let's move on. I had booked two traditional seats and one wheelchair "seat." Another lovely employee showed us to our seats, which were amazing! Really, I don't think there is a bad seat in the house in this awesome theatre, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the accessible seating offered a great view and was very easy to get to. Trust me, this is not always the case in many venues. In some places, I find that the accessible seating is something of an afterthought. Not the case here. Once we were situated, it was time for the show....
It was amaaaaaazing.
From the first moment to the last, this show was full of the kind of wonder and magic of which the holiday season ought always to be made. The costumes, the set, the props and the cast worked together in perfect harmony to bring to life the classic story a girl named Dorothy and her dog, Toto and their adventures in the merry old land of Oz. In this version, the play is set on a Hollywood sound stage in the golden age of film making, giving the familiar story a whole new twist that still has all of the earmarks of the classic tale. It was the perfect fusion of classic movie magic and modern technology, thanks to director Rick Miller.
What struck me most were the kids in the show! Playing various roles from the Lullaby League to crows and more, this cast of young actors was truly amazing. To be able to get up in front of an audience like that and perform (which meant not only remembering lines but also dance choreography and comedic timing) at such a young age is impressive. I haven't been considered a child for quite some time now and I could never do that today, let alone at that age. The children's chorus featured 10 local young people, and I predict they will all continue to be shining stars on the stage for many years to come!
The entire cast did a wonderful job! Coming to the Grand stage from various corners of the theatre world including the Stratford and Shaw Festivals as well as Broadway, each one brought his or her individual talents and experience to breathe life into these beloved characters.
The fact that this story is as relevant today as it was 77 years ago when it made its theatrical debut really speaks volumes, doesn't it? It is the kind of tale that families can truly enjoy together, and I think that kind of truly family-friendly entertainment can be hard to come by these days. I sincerely applaud The Grand Theatre for bringing this kind of high-quality entertainment to family audiences each and every year.
The Grand Theatre is located in the heart of downtown London, Ontario. The theatre produces and presents professional performances on the MainStage and in the McManus Studio Theatre. It is also a teaching theatre with apprenticeship programs and a leader in youth mentorship with The High School Project, the only project of its kind in North America. The Grand season runs from September to May. The 2016/17 season is on sale now.
Thank you very much to the entire staff at The Grand Theatre for showing us a lovely time! If you are in the Southwestern Ontario region and are looking for a first-rate theatre experience, I cannot recommend The Grand Theatre highly enough.