Wizard of Oz musical has munchkins for the kids and gags about balls for everyone else.
If you’ve never been to Ross Petty’s annual Christmas musical at the Elgin Theatre, there is one simple fact you must understand: it’s like a dick joke wrapped in a Disney movie. Ergo, everyone wins.
Petty has been staging his family-friendly musicals, based on popular children’s stories and songs of the day, for 16 years. You’ve surely seen the ads on the subway each Christmas: wrestler Bret “The Hitman” Hart playing the genie in Aladdin, figure skater Kurt Browning as Peter Pan, or any number of new-Degrassi actors or Canadian Idol contestants playing various princes and princesses.
What is not made clear through the posters is that the shows are two hours of cheesy hilarity whether you are eight or 48. They are endlessly crude, surprisingly political and full of jokes at Mayor Rob Ford’s expense—but with enough wicked witches and cute animals to keep the youngsters dazed and oblivious.
This year’s show, The Wizard of Oz, carries on that fine tradition. Under the cover of munchkins and wizard-seeking antics, the play ramps up to jokes about Dorothy’s possible bestiality, poppy-fuelled bunga bunga parties, and Wayne Gretzky’s daughter’s sexy Twitter account.
Royal Canadian Air Farce comic Jessica Holmes plays Splenda the Good Witch, accompanied by Sound of Music reality-show winner Elicia MacKenzie as Dorothy, and We Will Rock You star Yvan Pedneault as Donny the Tin Man. The show’s standout, however, is Stratford Festival regular Dan Chameroy, in very poor drag as Dorothy’s lovably grotesque, boy-crazy Aunt Plumbum. A recurring character in recent years’ shows, Plumbum is mad for man-meat and sandwich-meat alike, leading to jokes about the size of one character’s panini and another’s giant basket (“that’s what she said!”).
The play begins with Dorothy hiding in a recycling bin and being swept away to the land of Oz—which, in this case, turns out to be Australia, a marvellous new world.
“Warm breeze, red cliffs….Is that a bike lane?” Dorothy marvels. “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Toronto anymore!”
Holmes—otherwise famous for her Celine Dion impression—sums up the show rather succinctly.
“(Dorothy and Donny) found love, we learned some valuable lessons about some stuff, and the witch got melted.”
And they all lived happily ever after. In a pervy and subversive kind of way.