|Megan Ludlow (left) is Dorothy and Ryan Landry is the Wicked Witch of the South End in the Gold Dust Orphans' "Whizzin'." (KELLY DAVIDSON)|
The Scarecrow has no brain, just a cellphone. "I just get on my phone and talk!" he exclaims. The Tin Man, as befits a guy with no heart, is interested only in cybersex. And the Cowardly Lion wants to be . . . queen of the forest.
Toto, I don't think we're in Oz anymore.
We're not, of course. We're in the basement of Machine in the Fenway, where Ryan Landry's Gold Dust Orphans are presenting their latest low-budget extravaganza: "Whizzin'," a reimagined (and strictly R-rated) "Wizard of Oz" with a recovering-addict Glinda, a Wicked Witch of the South End, and a few other twists.
It's a musical, so it also has some funny songs by Landry and Billy Hough to go with Landry's sharp-silly book, which moves Dorothy from Kansas to a Hyannis trailer park (!) before the tornado sends her off to the Land of Id. Gold Dust Orphans regulars will know that this particular country lies not at all far from Machine.
It's also not as far as you might think from Oz; as usual, Landry mines his best humor from staying surprisingly close to his original source, but with the wry addition of social satire and affectionate parody. That cellphone for the Scarecrow - isn't that a perfect prop for the brainless chatterbox of today? Likewise, it feels completely natural for the Tin Man to walk around with a laptop permanently attached.
For his Dorothy, Landry calls once again on Megan Ludlow, the actual girl who winsomely played an actual girl in the troupe's otherwise drag-happy "Cinderella Rocks." Here Ludlow has the pigtailed-innocence look down pat, but she's also got a naughty streak that lets her - and us - revel in even the grossest of sight gags.
These would include the giant orifice that replaces the Yellow Brick Road (can I say "dentata" in a family newspaper?) and the little problem for which Dorothy seeks the wizard's help: She's a bedwetter, though by the time the show is over she'll also have drenched just about everything else in sight. (Hence the show's title, in case you were thinking it had something to do with "Wizard" or the more recent Oz-travaganza, "Wicked.") Her difficulties only increase with the legacy she gets from the deceased witch her trailer falls on - not slippers, but ruby panties.
Oh, but enough about plot. It's clever and quick, as usual, but as usual it's not the main reason to see the show. That would be the lovely and ludicrous costumes by Scott Martino - including a sequined tailcoat for Hough's wizardly Sigmund Freud, pink excess for Olive Another's simpering Glinda, and a few supernatural appendages for some frighteningly well-endowed Munchkins - and the style-on-a-shoestring sets and props by Windsor Newton, particularly a hilarious whirling fabric tube of a tornado.
Most of all, it's the combination of high wit and hard rocking that makes an Orphans musical irresistible. This one has a few surprisingly serious numbers, which occasionally create some odd tone shifts, but even the love ballads are good of their kind. And, as the icing on the cake, there is the simply unmissable sight of the Wickedest Witch of them all: Landry himself, resplendent in green makeup and warts, milking all the classic lines for every laugh they're worth. Delicately, of course. Del-i-cate-ly-hee-hee.
Louise Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.