Oddly enough, the productions of two musicals overlapped in the local area. (see Li'l Abner from last weekend) West Shore Community College staged the classic Wizard of Oz. Six performances (this weekend and next) are nearly sold out. I managed to snag a single seat for this afternoon.
I sat next to the mother of one of the children who played a Munchkin. Some were adults, some were kids. She said the cast has been practicing five hours, four days a week for two months. It showed.
This was one of the best local productions I've ever seen. Everyone did an outstanding job. The costumes were rented. That makes sense... it would be an incredible task to make these outfits from scratch- audiences have solidified expectations of what all these characters should look like. The Wizard of Oz is pretty much a part of the national consciousness at this point.
I took a lot of pictures, but most didn't come out well. If there was a weakness, the lighting was dim, which made it hard to catch candid photos. Flash photos not allowed. Anyway, here are a few of the better ones.
First, Dorothy sings "Over the Rainbow." Did you know this song was nearly cut from the movie?
Here, the Good Witch Glinda confronts the Wicked Witch of the West after Dorothy's house has fallen on her sister, the Wicked Witch of the East. Dorothy learns that the ruby slippers will protect her if she keeps them on.
The backgrounds were done with rear projection. I'm thinking that's why they had to go light on the spotlights so as not to wash out the images.
Dorothy and her friends come to the door of Oz and want to be admitted.
Of course, the Wizard sends them off the bring him the broom of the witch, and we all know that Dorothy manages to do just that. Here, the witch cries, "I'm melting; I'm melting!" at her demise.
After the Wizard accidentally flies off to Kansas without Dorothy, Glinda tells her she has had the power to return home all along, she just needed to learn a lesson- there's no place like home.
Dorothy had a great voice, and she captured a lot of the tone of Judy Garland, making her believable and lovable. Toto was adorable, of course, and good as gold. I was told by someone who knows his owners that he was good as long as none of the kids from the family he belongs to was visible!
The Wicked Witch of the West/Elmira Gulch was one of the two cast members I know, a local actress who is in many plays, and she was great. Played just over the top enough to be deliciously malicious. She's tall and thin, a perfect fit for the part.
Glinda was perfect (and doubled as the lead Jitterbug dancer- I don't remember the jitterbugs in the movie, but I haven't seen it for a long time because Om actually HATES this show). In the movie, Glinda is very pale and blond. This Glinda had a coffee-and-cream complexion which went with the pink and gold perfectly. I liked it!
Of Dorothy's companions, the Scarecrow and Tin Man were the strongest actors, but not so much stronger that they overshadowed the Lion.
None of the acting was poor. Even the small roles were played well.
I had one of the worst seats (which I was glad enough to get)- the theater has a thrust stage, and I was all the way to one side. However, the blocking was done well enough that I didn't miss too much of the action. The stone barn/witch's castle was on my side, so it was hardest to see those scenes.
The set was nicely planned. The set designer wrote for the program, "my goal was to create a fixed set that could serve as the backdrop for Kansas as well as Oz... a transformation of place as well... as characters." Not only did the designer have to get all the locations on the stage, but the orchestra as well, which was tucked into a two-tier alcove right on the stage.
Kudos to director Rick Plummer, and the cast and crew.
Secret: I was gone hiking when they held the auditions. If I'd been home, I was going to try out for a munchkin/flying monkey.
If you think I've been going to a lot of plays lately, it's true. I'm going to as many as I can afford. I'm missing my theatre connections.
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