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Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Wizard of Oz

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?

Wizard of Oz

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.

Wizard of Oz

Dorothy and her friends come to the door of Oz and want to be admitted.

Wizard of Oz

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.

Wizard of Oz

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.

Wizard of Oz

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.

See Li'l Abner
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Karen and Gerard said...

Love this musical--especially "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." I remember acting out this play in our backyard as a kid. I was a flying monkey!

vanilla said...

Excellent! See as many shows as you can. Your pictures alone speak volumes about the effort and the wonderful performance you were privileged to see.

Catch My Words said...

Looks like a great production. One of my unmet goals is to read the book. I've heard that it is very different from the movie.


Unknown said...

That all sounds delightful. I'd love to take my granddaughter to something like that. But you've inspired me so in her absence I'll look out for plays and shows I can see alone.

Ann said...

Those costumes are fabulous. I can't believe they almost didn't use somewhere over the rainbow. Glad they kept it in. I love that song.

Lin said...

Oh, how fun! It's great that you have so much local theater to enjoy. Shows here are so darn expensive, but we try to see what we can. Joe and I go to a lot of the high school productions too.

betchai said...

i love watching musical, sadly, we can't take photos here.

Sharkbytes said...

Karen- That song is really something special

vanilla- Glad you approve my agenda. That sounds sarcastic, but I really mean it.

Joyce- I read it long ago. There is a whole series of Oz books

Jean- Local theatre is often affordable

Ann- yes it's like a national treasure

Lin- There didn't used to be much here at all, but things are changing

betchai- The way I'm reading the program warning it sounds like non-flash pics are ok. Sure hope so.

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