Editor's note: The following review is by Caroline Werenskjold of Oakton (Va.) High School. It comes to Patch via The Cappies, the Washington metropolitan regional critics and awards program where high school journalists review high school theater. including ticket information.
One girl's dream to escape to new worlds goes terribly wrong when she is literally blown away to a faraway land and confronted by witches and monkeys and wizards (oh my!).
Last weekend, proved that there really is no place like home with its enchanting rendition of “The Wizard of Oz.” The show's final performances are this weekend, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Originally titled "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" in a 1900 children’s novel by L. Frank Baum, "The Wizard of Oz" has since had 13 sequels, as well as musical and movie adaptations. Unlike the 1939 MGM film edition however, Wootton performed the Royal Shakespeare Company version created in 1987 that includes a song that was originally cut from the film.
The Wootton cast included many talented singers who worked well together, heightening each other’s energy and creating the crucial relationships the plot demands. Although some members of the cast had trouble with speed and clarity, the actors each created unique, engaging characters that kept the show on its feet.
Kayli Modell used her stunning soprano to its highest potential as Dorothy Gale. She made clear character choices that helped show Dorothy’s transformation from a confused, dependent girl to a confident young woman. Her performance of “Over the Rainbow” was stirring and captivating, displaying an impressive vocal range. Julia Wainger played the infamous West Witch, and despite problems with her mic, gave a fully committed portrayal of the witch with a sinister glare and an eerie cackle.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the show was the interaction between Dorothy and the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man, played by Adam Uslon, Mitchell Myers, and Landon Fleishman respectively. Each of the actors were animated and expressive in their characters, creating specific identites from their diction to their physicality. In each of the ensemble songs, these actors kept the personality of the character and did not get lost in the crowd. Myers in particular did a commendable job in creating a comical Lion with near perfect timing and execution. His solo “King of the Forest” was laugh-out-loud funny and one of the show's highlights.
“The Wizard of Oz” cannot be done without a little magic, and the Wootton special effects crew performed admirably. With a flying system above the stage, Glinda and the Wicked Witch actually flew across the stage suspended by wires. Adding flaming sparks and gentle snow, Nick Hatcher and Alex Korolkoff went above and beyond by producing special effects far beyond par for a high school production.
In handling such a well-known musical, Wootton rose to the challenge and delivered a truly magical evening, displaying many hours of practice that paid off in full.