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“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by Lyman Frank Baum is America’s most famous fairy tale which attained worldwide cult status through the screen adaptation starring Judy Garland (1939). Its best-known song “Over the Rainbow” by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg was awarded an Oscar in 1940. The stage version of this masterpiece, as originally developed in 1987 for the Royal Shakespeare Company, ist shown for the firt time at the Volksoper.
Act IDorothy is beset by difficulties: cruel Miss Gulch has it in for her because Dorothy’s little dog Toto sometimes chases her cat. But Dorothy’s Aunt Em and Uncle Henry have no time for her – there is too much to do on the farm. The farm workers Zeke, Hunk and Hickory give Dorothy plenty of good advice – but when Miss Gulch appears with a warrant from the sheriff to take Dorothy’s dog away, none of the adults is able to stand up to her.Dorothy resolves to run away from her home in Kansas together with Toto. She meets a person who calls himself the fortune teller Professor Marvel, who invents a story that Dorothy’s aunt is fatally ill. Dorothy immediately runs home. Just then a tornado appears. While the others take shelter in a cellar Dorothy arrives too late and runs into the farmhouse, which is whisked up by the storm. Dorothy is carried away – to the mystical Land of Oz.
Dorothy and the farmhouse are blown all the way to Munchkin City, squashing the Wicked Witch of the East upon landing and thereby releasing the tiny Munchkins from the witch’s spell of fear. Dorothy is celebrated as a heroine. But then the sister of the dead witch appears, the Wicked Witch of the West. She wants her sister’s ruby shoes, which confer power upon whoever wears them. Suddenly, however, the ruby shoes are on Dorothy’s feet. The Good Witch Glinda tells Dorothy to go to the Emerald City to consult the Wizard of Oz, who can tell her how to get back to Kansas. Dorothy sets off with Toto along the yellow brick road to the Emerald City.
On the way she makes friends with a scarecrow, who desperately wants to acquire a brain, a tin man who wants to get a heart, and a cowardly lion who dreams of being courageous. The three of them accompany Dorothy on her way to the Wizard; if he can show Dorothy the way back to Kansas, he can surely fulfil their wishes also. But the Wicked Witch of the West is not willing to accept defeat: she conjures up a field of poisonous poppies which make the friends fall into a deep sleep on the spot. Glinda comes to their aid and causes snow to fall on the poppies, which breaks the witch’s evil spell. Now at last the friends can see their goal ahead of them: the Emerald City.
Act IIWhen he sees that she is wearing the ruby shoes, the watchman at the Emerald City allows Dorothy and her friends to enter. Finally they are admitted to the presence of the Wizard of Oz. He promises to grant the friends their wishes if they will first prove themselves worthy by bringing him the broomstick of the wicked witch.
The Witch of the West mobilises all the forces under her command – the enslaved people of the Winkies and the flying monkeys – and sets biting insects, the jitterbugs, after Dorothy and her friends. Anyone who is bitten by a jitterbug has to dance until they are exhausted. The monkeys drag Dorothy and Toto off to the witch’s castle. Toto succeeds in escaping. When the witch fails to wrench the ruby shoes from Dorothy’s feet, she threatens to kill her.
The scarecrow, the tin man and the cowardly lion get a hold of Winkie uniforms and are thus able to enter the castle. With Toto’s help they find Dorothy. When the witch threatens the scarecrow with fire, Dorothy pours water over her – whereupon the witch melts away and dies.
When the friends present themselves to the Wizard again, they find that he is just an ordinary person and his magic is just a fraud. But through him the four discover that everything they so dearly wished for is already in their possession. As an external symbol of this, the scarecrow is given a diploma, the lion is given a medal for bravery, and the tin man is given a prize for the extraordinary love and care he gave to his friends. And Dorothy learns that she is able at any time, under her own powers, to return to Kansas.
Performance in German language