Category Archives: W-Z

Working

Working-BroadwayOriginal Broadway Cast, 1978 (Columbia/Masterworks Broadway) 4 Stars (4 / 5) Studs Terkel’s Working, the 1972 best-selling volume of interviews with Americans discussing the pros and cons of their occupations, struck Stephen Schwartz as a good basis for a musical; so he set about rounding up a group of songwriters, in addition to himself, to musicalize Terkel’s pungent, poignant chats. Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, James Taylor, Mary Rodgers, Susan Birkenhead, and Schwartz turned out the song vignettes, and everyone from a newsboy to a housewife to a cleaning lady to a retiree showed up onstage to declare their highs and woes. A number of the songs — including Carnelia’s “Just a Housewife” and “The Mason,” and Schwartz’s “It’s an Art” — became popular on the cabaret circuit. Grant’s swinging “Cleaning Women” is another catchy item, as is just about everything else on this resonant recording, which benefits from Kirk Nurock’s tingling arrangements of the songs. To represent the hard-working multitudes, Schwartz tapped some stalwart performers: Lenora Nemetz, Joe Mantegna, Amy Freeman, Susan Bigelow, David Patrick Kelly, Bob Gunton, and others put elbow grease into their singing. The cast is so rich in talent that Patti LuPone appears in the ensemble, with no solo spot. Fynsworth Alley’s CD includes six bonus tracks, four of them featuring Carnelia singing his own songs in his tremulous baritone. — David Finkle

Working-L.A.Los Angeles Cast, 1999 (L.A. Theatre Works, 2CDs) 3 Stars (3 / 5) For this revival of Working, Stephen Schwartz updated the Studs Terkel adaptation he’d overseen decades earlier and to which he had contributed along with the other composers and lyricists named in the review  above. Along with adding more contemporary references, as for example to computers in the workplace, Schwartz used this recording opportunity to create a document of almost the entire show. The album includes not only the potent songs but also the pithy monologues that were lifted from Terkel’s best-seller and then tweaked for dramatic effect. As a result, a much more rounded sense of the show’s power is captured, as compared with the original Broadway cast recording. The company assembled by L.A. Theatre Works mover and shaker Susan Albert Loewenberg includes Orson Bean, Harry Groener, B.J. Ward, Michael Kostroff, Eileen Barnett, Kaitlin Hopkins, Vincent Tumeo, Kenna Ramsey, and Vickilyn Reynolds. Performing before a live audience only a few times, these singing actors may not have had time to achieve the polish of a cast who’ve refined the material during a longer run, but there is certainly no featherbedding here. And it sure is a treat to hear the always lovable Bean, whose list of Broadway credits is surprisingly short, doing so well by Craig Carnelia’s “Joe.” — D.F.

Wonderful Town

Wonderful-Town-OBCOriginal Broadway Cast, 1953 (Decca/MCA) 4 Stars (4 / 5) Nine years after their breakthrough show, On the Town, composer Leonard Bernstein and lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green were hired on very short notice to provide a replacement score for Wonderful Town. Their excellent work was initially overshadowed by a dominant star, Rosalind Russell, who had headlined a 1942 non-musical film version of Ruth Sherwood’s comic memoir My Sister Eileen and agreed to become a song-and-dance gal for the Broadway musical adaptation. The show’s success was immediate, with one critic chiming “Roz for President.” Russell’s ace timing and her rough-and-ready way with her numbers, including the comedic showpiece “One Hundred Easy Ways (to Lose a Man),” were so beguiling that the merits of the score weren’t fully appreciated right away; filled with wit and sharp pastiche, it cleverly gives the more legit music to others in order to let Russell’s Ruth thrive within a limited vocal range. The original cast album conveys much of the show’s magic: the complex comedy-and-music structure of “Conversation Piece”;  the gentle parody “Ohio,” in which Russell harmonizes with the sweet yet assertive Eileen of Edith (later Edie) Adams; and the wild “Conga!” with men from the the Brazilian navy. No one would say that Russell was a singer of any polish, nor does her vocal tone fall liltingly on the ear. Subsequent Ruths would have more voice, but Russell was unique and irresistible. — Richard Barrios

Wonderful-Town-TVTelevision Cast, 1958 (Columbia) 4 Stars (4 / 5) Wonderful Town was one of the glories of the age of the television musical spectacular. Repeating her stage role, Rosalind Russell was supported by a mostly new company, although Jordan Bentley as the dumb jock and Cris Alexander as the drugstore guy were retained from the original cast. Recorded in stereo, this album stacks up quite well against the mono original. Jacqueline McKeever is nearly as good an Eileen as Edith (Edie) Adams. Sydney Chaplin as Bob Baker seems more suitably cast to type than the Broadway production’s George Gaynes, and he does a persuasive job with “A Quiet Girl” and “It’s Love” even though he has far less voice. On the minus side, the intervening five years (and countless performances of Auntie Mame) had taken a toll on Russell; while the verve and humor are still there, albeit with an added soupçon of diva attitude, her vocal decline exacerbates her tendency to bully her way through the music by hook or by crook. But she’s still Roz, and this is a fine recording of the score overall. — R.B.

Wonderful-Town-LipmanLondon Cast, 1986 (First Night) 3 Stars (3 / 5) Quality will out, at least some of the time, and Wonderful Town was finally appreciated on its own merits in the enthusiastically received London revival that yielded this recording. Even with a scaled-down orchestra that included a synthesizer, this production soared. The strong craftsmanship of the show was more apparent than ever because its wagon wasn’t hitched to a big star. Maureen Lipman’s expert performance as Ruth is smart, deadpan-witty, hopeful, exuberant, and incisive; Lipman has no difficulty with the character or the songs, and her American accent is fine. The Eileen of Emily Morgan is sweet, if a shade thin-voiced, and Ray Lonnen is a bit weak as Bob Baker, but the rest of the cast is energetic and committed even as they struggle with their American accents. This is an enjoyable performance that makes a good case for the show as more of an an ensemble piece than a star vehicle. — R.B.

Wonderful-Town-Mason copyStudio Cast, 1996 (JAY-TER, 2CDs) 4 Stars (4 / 5) This complete recording of Wonderful Town, including all of the music cues and dances, was welcome. Karen Mason sings very well as Ruth, and she doesn’t stint on the comedy in one of the score’s and the album’s highlights: the hilarious “Ruth’s Stories” sequence, with its “literary” quick-changes and droll Bernstein interjections. Rebecca Luker is an outstanding Eileen, if perhaps a shade too aware of her own charm, and Ron Raines is a better Baker than his predecessors. Conductor John Owen Edwards does his customary efficient work, the supporting cast and chorus are fine, and the extended dialogue sections give a real sense of the show.  — R.B.

Wonderful-Town-RattleStudio Cast, 1998 (EMI) 3 Stars (3 / 5) Conductor Simon Rattle, a Leonard Bernstein partisan, decided to give the Wonderful Town score another big studio recording. His Ruth is Kim Criswell, a veteran of many show albums. The much-loved Broadway musical star Audra McDonald is Eileen, and the imposing operatic baritone Thomas Hampson is Bob Baker. This time, the composer and conductor are the stars of what is orchestrally the best Wonderful Town ever recorded. Under Sir Simon, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group sounds like the finest Broadway pit orchestra of all time; every instrumental line is transparently clear, and the whole of it is a testament to Bernstein’s wit, lyricism, and comedic savvy. The usual balance of the score is further shifted with the ascension of Eileen; even though McDonald’s voice might be a shade mature for the role, she’s such an intelligent and intuitive artist that she vocally dominates the proceedings. Criswell tries hard, but her characterization is all on the surface, with lots of shtick accessories applied. Hampson overwhelms and over-sings his role, though he does add some good humor to the “Rigoletto” line in “What a Waste.” Brent Barrett’s “Pass the Football” is well sung, and operatic baritone Rodney Gilfry is excellent in two small roles. — R.B.

Wonderful-Town-MurphyBroadway Cast, 2003 (DRG) 4 Stars (4 / 5) As the preceding roster of Wonderful Town recordings attests, this score has been especially fortunate in the studio. That certainly applies to the cast album of the 2003 Broadway revival, which was based on the 2000 City Center Encores! presentation starring Donna Murphy. Not since Roz Russell has a star so completely dominated the proceedings — and this one can really sing! Murphy is a sensational Ruth, wry and funny and romantic by turns, all the while interacting fully with the other performers. Just listen to the spectrum of vocal colors she produces in “Swing” and you’ll know that a true musical comedy expert is at work here. Jennifer Westfeldt is a charming Eileen, the rest of the cast (including Gregg Edelman and Michael McGrath) operates at a high level, and Rob Fisher conducts Bernstein’s terrific score with his usual skill. As an appendix, DRG has included recordings of four songs from the show as performed by Betty Comden and Adolph Green circa 1953. — R.B.

The Zulu and the Zayda

ZuluOriginal Broadway Cast, 1965 (Columbia) 1 Stars (1 / 5) This was an odd little show, billed as “a play with music.” Columbia probably decided to record The Zulu and the Zayda because the songs were written by composer-lyricist Harold Rome. The fact that the cast included Menasha Skulnik, a Yiddish theater star in one of his final performances, plus Ossie Davis and Louis Gossett, perhaps enhanced the label’s interest. The score combines South African folk-style music and Yiddish theater-style songs. Particularly catchy is the first-act closer: Skulnik gives his new-found African friends a lesson in Yiddish, teaching them the meaning of “Oisgetzaichnet” (translation: “Out of this world!”) after they have sung “Like the Breeze Blows,” an uplifting song of freedom. Skulnik’s duet with Gossett, “It’s Good to Be Alive,” is charming, as is his solo “River of Tears.” Most of the songs are attractive, but this is not a full-scale musical. The recording is for cast album completists, alphabetically the last in their collections. — Jeffrey Dunn

Zorba

Zorba-OBCOriginal Broadway Cast, 1968 (Capitol) 5 Stars (5 / 5) Are you sitting down? When I saw Zorba in its original Broadway production (not the horrible Anthony Quinn revival; see below), I thought it a better show than Cabaret, the previous Broadway outing of the team that put this show together: composer John Kander, lyricist Fred Ebb, and director Harold Prince. To me, Zorba is more emotional, deals with life more broadly, and is brilliantly theatrical. Whereas many Kander and Ebb musicals are made up of a succession of special-material songs, this one has an honest, mature, character- and plot-driven score. The opening number, “Life Is,” perfectly sets the theme of the evening. (The first line, “Life is what you do while you’re waiting to die,” was watered down to “Life is what you do till the moment you die” for later productions.) “Happy Birthday” is a wonderfully touching number for the death scene of Madame Hortense, while “Why Can’t I Speak” is a very beautiful song that exemplifies the protagonist Niko’s emotional problems. Although some of the events in Joseph Stein’s libretto are tragic, the audience leaves the theater moved, enlightened, even uplifted — and the cast album has the same effect on the listener. Herschel Bernardi, Maria Karnilova, John Cunningham, Carmen Alvarez, and Lorraine Serabian drive the recording with their sincerity, energy, and abundant talent.  — Ken Bloom

Zorba-revivalBroadway Cast, 1983 (RCA) 2 Stars (2 / 5) Anthony Quinn and Lila Kedrova, who so memorably played the title character and Mme. Hortense in the 1964 non-musical film Zorba the Greek, starred in this revival of the Kander-Ebb-Stein musical Zorba under the direction of  Michael Cacoyannis, who had directed the film. Unfortunately, Quinn sings so poorly here that many listeners will find this recording unlistenable. The other performers, including Robert Westenberg as Niko and Debbie Shapiro (later Debbie Shapiro Gravitte, later Debbie Gravitte) as The Woman (previously known as the Leader), fare much better, but the original Broadway cast recording is the one to get. — K.B.

Zombie Prom

ZombieOriginal Off-Broadway Cast, 1996 (First Night) 4 Stars (4 / 5) The talented team of librettist-lyricist John Dempsey and composer Dana P. Rowe mined the familiar terrain of Little Shop/Rocky Horror teen-nostalgia-science-fiction-horror, then threw in a little Bye Bye Birdie and Grease, and came up with this short-running, Off-Broadway lark. As the title suggests, it’s about an undead senior in Eisenhower’s America who comes back to attend his high school prom and reclaim the love of Toffee, his sweetheart. Sure, Zombie Prom is a goof — but it’s a well-structured, modestly scaled goof with smart pastiche melodies and fun, intelligent lyrics that really rhyme. Listen to how smoothly the songs segue into dialogue and into other songs on this spiffily produced recording, which features an appreciative essay by musical theater historian Martin Gottfried. And the cast is among the best of the 1990s: Jessica-Snow Wilson is quite an adorable Toffee (“Where once that girl was effervescent / She’s now a poster-child depressant / A problematic post-pubescent”), while Richard Roland is a sweet, supple-voiced zombie. As a scandal-sheet editor who gets mixed up with the denizens of Enrico Fermi High, Richard Muenz for once finds a role wherein his natural hamminess is an asset. And as Delilah Strict, the school’s horrifying principal, Karen Murphy is a powerful-voiced camp diva with just the right sense of mockery. In the theater, her “Rules, Regulations, and Respect” stopped the show; we’re lucky to have it preserved here. — Marc Miller

Ziegfeld Follies of 1936

Ziegeld-1936Encores! Concert Cast, 1999 (Decca) 5 Stars (5 / 5) You can always tell an overture arranged and orchestrated by Hans Spialek: The brass section announces something important, the woodwinds flutter and swoop upward in anticipation, and the tension builds to a point where the only thing that can break it is a great song. Spialek’s overture to Vernon Duke’s score for Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 takes in one standard (“I Can’t Get Started”) and several interesting not-quite-standards (“My Red-Letter Day,” “Words Without Music,” “Island in the West Indies”). As conducted superbly by Rob Fisher, it’s the entry point to one of the most fully realized excursions into the past ever attempted by City Center Encores! With the series’ repertoire having grown safer over the years, this title was a real anomaly: an ancient, not particularly well-regarded topical revue with forgotten Ira Gershwin lyrics and an all-star cast that could never be replicated. Well, are you in for a surprise. Nearly every number is a gem, and nearly every member of the Encores! cast is up to the material. “Words Without Music” has one of the strangest, most sophisticated melodies written for Broadway in the 1930s, and Ruthie Henshall matches Gertrude Niesen, who introduced it, for individuality; throaty and idiosyncratic, Henshall is like Tammy Grimes with more musicality. Christine Ebersole, handling Eve Arden’s songs, is insinuating in “Island in the West Indies” (which serves up another fabulous Spialek arrangement) and hilarious in “The Economic Situation,” a fascinating Gershwin curiosity. Later, Ebersole shares “I Can’t Get Started” with Peter Scolari, who perfectly emulates Bob Hope’s comic-leading-man timing and light-but-secure voice. So luxurious is the casting that such Broadway stalwarts as Howard McGillin, Jim and Bob Walton, and Karen Ziemba are nearly crowded out, though all are exemplary in what they’re given to do. Stephanie Pope lacks heat here, and Mary Testa is a slightly bland Fanny Brice — but when a time capsule is this beautifully engineered, the best thing to do is stifle all quibbles, climb aboard, and enjoy the ride. Great cover art, too. — Marc Miller

Ziegfeld Follies of 1919

Ziegfeld-1919Original Cast, 1919-20 (Smithsonian/no CD) 3 Stars (3 / 5) By the time of its 13th edition, Ziegfeld’s legendary beauty-and-music revue was a Broadway institution. Some historians hold that this 1919 version was the greatest of all Follies, although others feel that the 1936 version, headlined by Bob Hope and Josephine Baker, brought the revue to a brilliant, posthumous apex four years after Ziegfeld’s death. Fortunately, a large number of recordings exist to back up claims for the Ziegfield Follies of 1919. This was probably the most star-laden of all the editions: Eddie Cantor, Bert Williams, Marilyn Miller, Van and Schenck, Eddie Dowling, and, in a cornerstone of Broadway mythology, tenor John Steel introducing Irving Berlin’s “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody.” Not all of the cast members made recordings of their contributions, but enough remained for The Smithsonian Collection to issue a fine compilation. Here is the tragically short-lived Williams in “Somebody” and “Everybody Wants a Key to My Cellar,” Cantor having a ball with Berlin’s “You’d Be Surprised,” and Van and Schenck’s distinctive, close harmony in “”Mandy.” The sound quality of these acoustical recordings is variable and distinctly Io-fi, but here is history come to life. (One succulent item was dropped from the show during tryouts and not recorded: “Perfume of Opium.”) The album’s annotations are excellent. — Richard Barrios

Zanna, Don’t!

ZannaOriginal Off-Broadway Cast, 2003 (PS Classics) 2 Stars (2 / 5) Like the show itself, the cast recording of composer-lyricist Tim Acito’s “musical fairy tale” Zanna, Don’t! will probably appeal mainly to teenagers or early-twentysomethings with limited interest in musical theater. Anyone with more sophisticated taste will find Acito’s work unpolished and sometimes downright sloppy. His music is generally fine, a series of pop-influenced melodies well in keeping with the youthful, bouncy tone that helps sell this musical about a world where homosexuality is the dominant orientation. But Acito’s lyrics may cause fits among purists, because they’re inaccurately stressed throughout and very poorly rhymed, as in: “love/enough,” “lover/another,” “clues/you,” “this/is,” and “town/around” — all of these examples from the first song alone. Lyrical transgressions aside, Acito’s songs make for moderately enjoyable listening, with at least one — a high-school musical spoof about heterosexuals in the military, titled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — demonstrating a cleverness that’s worthy of notice. Jai Rodriguez gives an endearing performance as the title character, who’s determined to help his classmates find love, but it’s Anika Larsen’s high belting in “I Ain’t Got Time (for Nothin’ But Love)” that brings Zanna, Don’t! as close as it gets to real excitement. — Matthew Murray

Woman of the Year

WomanOriginal Broadway Cast, 1981 (Arista/Masterworks Broadway) 2 Stars (2 / 5) This is a musicalized update of the famous Hepburn-Tracy movie of the same title, with the plot changed so that it now concerns a television anchorwoman and a cartoonist. The show is not one of composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb’s better efforts. In the title role, Lauren Bacall sings in a foghorn voice that sounds far worse than it did 11 years earlier in Applause, and the star also seems overwhelmed by having too much to do. On the recording, her limitations are clear in every number — such as “When You’re Right, You’re Right,” her apology to the cartoonist (played by Harry Guardino); “One of the Boys,” in which she bonds with him and his colleagues; and “I Wrote the Book,” a pleasant ragtime number save for the fact that Bacall is singing it. Guardino’s big ballad, “Sometimes a Day Goes By,” is rather boring. Three other number delight in their negativity: “It Isn’t Working,” “I Told You So,” and “Shut Up, Gerald.” Just when the whole enterprise seems doomed, out comes Marilyn Cooper to duet with Bacall in “The Grass Is Always Greener,” a wonderful comedic showstopper and the only reason to buy this recording. — Peter Filichia

The Wizard of Oz (Arlen-Harburg-Stothart)

Wizard-SoundtrackFilm Soundtrack, 1939 (MGM/Rhino-Turner) 5 Stars (5 / 5) Is it an overstatement to call MGM’s The Wizard of Oz the world’s most beloved film? Happily, a superb job has been done with the latest edition of the soundtrack recording of this gem, and we owe thanks to Marilee Bradford and Bradley Flanagan for doing it so neatly and completely. Many of us have fond memories of an old MGM “highlights” LP, but here we get all of the music from the movie, in the best possible sound. What’s most impressive is all the musical detail that may be heard clearly for the first time. Yes, we know “Over the Rainbow” and the other great Harold Arlen-E.Y. Harburg songs performed by Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Frank Morgan, but the background music by Herbert Stothart represents Hollywood scoring at its peak. Included on the two-CD version of the soundtrack are several other treats: multiple takes of many songs, including one of “Over the Rainbow” that comes to a premature stop with a big sneeze/cough from Garland; the song “Jitterbug,” cut from the film, but tuneful and fun to hear; and the original Buddy Ebsen recording of”If I Only Had a Heart,” made before Ebsen’s reaction to the Tin Man’s aluminum makeup forced his replacement by the far more suitable Haley. Another bonus with the two-disc set is a sumptuous booklet with rare photos and detailed notes. — Richard Barrios

Wizard-RSCOriginal London Cast, 1989 (JAY) 2 Stars (2 / 5) What was more inevitable than a stage version of the extraordinarily popular MGM film The Wizard of Oz? By the 1960s, productions were cropping up everywhere; one of them even had the wonderful Margaret Hamilton reprising her definitive performance as the Wicked Witch of the West. But the most determined effort to put Oz onstage came in the 1980s, by no less a force than London’s Royal Shakespeare Company. The film’s orchestrations were recreated, its special effects adapted, and variations of this production have been performed numerous times since. The cast recording is in no way comparable to the movie soundtrack, but it’s passable. Conductor John Owen Edwards’ tempi differ from those in the movie, and while the orchestra plays well, the results are somewhat jolting. The cast varies wildly, from a sweet Dorothy (Gillian Bevan) to an undistinguished Scarecrow-Tin Man-Lion trio to a geriatric Glinda (Joyce Grant, who doubles as Aunt Em) and a literal drag of a Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch (the coyly named Bille Brown). Of course, the score itself is imperishable. — R.B.

Wizard-concertNew York Concert Cast, 1996 (Rhino-Turner) 1 Stars (1 / 5) Roger Daltrey as the Tin Man? Jackson Browne as the Scarecrow? Debra Winger as Miss Gulch and the Witch? Yes indeedy, that was the casting of a televised Lincoln Center concert version of The Wizard of Oz, performed only once for charity. But this recording also gives us Nathan Lane as quite a good Cowardly Lion. Of Browne and Daltrey, it might be said that they try hard. While Winger has some fun with her devilish doings, Natalie Cole’s Glinda sounds extremely tentative. The Boys Choir of Harlem makes sweet sounds as the Munchkins, and the idea of casting Joel Grey as the Wizard was so good that it was carried forward to the Broadway musical “prequel” Wicked. Unfortunately, nothing that’s good about this recording can overcome its terminal handicap: the horrific portrayal of Dorothy by Jewel, with her unending overlay of American Idol-style swoops and gulps. Those who revere “Over the Rainbow” are officially alerted that we’re not in Kansas anymore! — R.B.

Wizard-MSGMadison Square Garden Cast, 1998 (TVT) 3 Stars (3 / 5) This version of The Wizard of Oz was adapted from the Royal Shakespeare Company edition and an interim production by the Paper Mill Playhouse. The double role of Professor Marvel/The Wizard was taken by Mickey Rooney, who at age 78 was still a very game performer. As Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch, Eartha Kitt has the time of her life, funneling her purring persona into this nasty pair. (Thank you, producers, for giving the bewitching Kitt the reinstated “Jitterbug” number, in which the prescient lyricist E. Y. Harburg supplied lots of “r”s to rrrrroll!) While Jessica Grové is a pleasing Dorothy and Lara Teeter a good Scarecrow, Ken Page goes a bit over the top as the Lion. Another problem is the recorded sound, reverberant and bass-ridden. This Oz may not cast the spell of the movie, but it has its own moments of magic. — R.B.

WizardLondon Cast, 2011 (Verve) No stars; not recommended. If the movie posited  Oz as a dream, why not a bloated stage version of The Wizard of Oz that is, in effect, a nightmare? Surely some of the impetus for this 21st century “reimagining” was the worldwide hit Wicked. Still, why take on such a cherished film, given what must be the widely held opinion — already stated here, above — that no stage production could duplicate, let alone equal, its magic or its cast? Then again, such considerations may be of lesser import to The Right Honourable Andrew, Lord Lloyd-Webber. The Wizard of the West End determined that Oz’s yellow road would benefit from some brick-gilding, which included his writing six new songs with lyrics by Tim Rice; signing the master’s own Phantom, Michael Crawford, for the title role; and casting Dorothy (Danielle Hope) by way of a televised “Over the Rainbow” talent hunt. The result opened at the London Palladium to mixed reviews, with the most praise going to the sets, costumes, and effects. Later, there would later be a Toronto run and a North American tour. (So far, no plans for Broadway. Keep your fingers crossed.) All involved professed their love for the original — but with synthesizer-heavy rearrangements and the unavoidable clash between 1939 and 2011 aesthetics, this show was doomed from the get-go. The offenses are many and unending: a lament for Dorothy called “Nobody Understands Me,” Miss Gulch’s original, immortal “bicycle theme” (by Herbert Stothart) being outfitted with lyrics, the deletion of “If I Were King of the Forest,” a “Red Shoe Blues” (!!) for the Witch, and much, much more. Hope is an OK Dorothy in a chirpy sort of way. Her three farmhand-turned-creature pals tend to sound alike, and Crawford manages a twee sort of authority.  In summary: Remember the adage “There’s no place like home,” and stick with Garland and company. — R.B.