"The Wizard of Oz" comes to Broward Center

Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

It takes a lot to give a new take on a classic such as “The Wizard of Oz.”

When the stage musical comes to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts Jan 7-19, with the well-known Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg score, the show will boast new songs from Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Meanwhile, the two iconic roles from the story, Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West, get updated interpretations by Danielle Wade and Jacqueline Piro Donovan, respectively.

I recently chatted with the actresses. Excerpts from the interviews follow.


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Jacquelyn Piro Donovan

Role: Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West

Background: Donovan is best known for playing Cosette and Fantine in “Les Miserable” on Broadway. She is also a frequent visitor to South Florida (“I love stone crabs. Love ’em. So at some point, I will haul my butt down to Joe’s Stone Crab“), having performed at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale and the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach (now the Fillmore) in shows such as “The Secret Garden,” “Miss Saigon,” “Big” and “Sunset Boulevard.”

This version: “It’s somewhat of an homage to Margaret Hamilton in [the 1939 movie version] … but it’s a [2014] sensibility. If it were just Margaret Hamilton, well, that would get … I doubt if we could get away with entertaining an audience for 2 1/2 hours onstage, because she’s just so mean, but not in a funny way. I am definitely riding the line between evil and funny. If you just did mean, it wouldn’t really land. You might get away with it in a movie, but not a [stage] musical.”

Favorite moment: “My favorite scene is the last scene. It’s so intense. I’m staring at her, and venom is flying out of me.”

Danielle Wade

Role: Dorothy Gale

Background: The Ontario native won the role of Dorothy in 2012 at age 20 through a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation TV reality show contest titled “Over the Rainbow.”

This version: “I’m [Dorothy], but I bring a little of myself. No one will ever be Judy Garland again. I don’t want to be. I play her more tomboy, more contemporary, so people in [2014] can relate to her. She’s more of a girly-girl in the movie, because the film is 1939. I wear overalls in the beginning instead of a gingham dress.”

Favorite moment: “I have two favorite parts, really. The first is when I sing ‘Over the Rainbow,’ [which] goes without saying. I have now [sung] it at 350 live performances plus rehearsals, and I am still not anywhere tired of the song. The second is the goodbye scene, as it is so human and is something everyone can relate to.”

IF YOU GO

When: Jan. 7-19; 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 6:30 p.m. Sundays; 2 p.m. matinees Saturdays (and Wednesday, Jan. 15); 1 p.m. matinees Sundays

Where: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale

Cost: $34.50-$89.50

Contact: 954-462-0222 or BrowardCenter.org.