The Stadium Theatre Performing Arts Centre's current show is the Encore Kids musical production of "The Wizard of Oz". They bring this famous tale to the stage. Dorothy Gale is a teenager on a Kansas farm who dreams of going "over the rainbow" to escape her problems. The mean Miss Gulch wants to have Dorothy's dog, Toto, put down because he chased her cat and bit her hand. Dorothy is also having problems with her Auntie Em and her Uncle Henry who don't understand her problems and neither do Hunk, Hickory and Zeke, the three handy men who work on their farm. The tornado takes her away from the troubles she is having at home and brings her to Oz where her house kills the Wicked Witch of the East. The ruby slippers magically appear on Dorothy's feet after the evil witch's sister, the Wicked Witch of the West appears and threatens her, the munchkins and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. This well known tale is told in black and white in Kansas and in full color in Oz. The show was written by Frank L. Baum with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg from the MGM motion picture with book adaptation by John Kane. Under the topnotch direction of Ranee Csigay, music direction of Ryan DeWolfe and choreography by Kathleen Halloran Fortier, they lead their multitalented 81 member cast. This stage version of this classic tale receives a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the nights as its reward for its inventive presentation.
The special effects are excellent as are the multitude of gorgeous costumes by Lauren Schmidt and set by Ranee. A video image of outdoor locations are the set background for Act 1 and all the set pieces are moved on and off stage with ease by stage managers Mike Landry and Richard Zambarano. Ranee blocks the show marvelously, using the entire stage area and the aisles as entrances and exits. Ryan plays the piano and leads a three piece orchestra for the show as well as having taught the 81 member cast these songs. Some of Kathy's inventive dances include ballet, kick line, tap dance and jitterbug. This huge cast is lead by Katie Miller as Dorothy who is a lovely strawberry blond. She is superb in this role with her wonderful acting, singing and dancing. Katie plays up the comedy of the role but also makes you feel empathy for Dorothy when Miss Gulch wants to put Toto to death at the start of the show. However her best moment comes when she says goodbye to her best friends in Oz, leaving you with tears in your eyes at this tender, touching scene. Katie also tugs at your heartstrings with her rendition of "Over the Rainbow". The final goodbye is the very heart of the play when she realizes that everything she ever loved is right back in Kansas at home. I first reviewed Katie as Jo Jo in "Seussical" in Foxboro back in 2005. Dorothy's three friends are tremendously talented with their singing, dancing and acting, too. They capture every single comic moment with their clever repartee as well as move you to tears with the poignancy in the serious scenes. 17 year Adam Landry is terrific with his limber and lanky movements as the Scarecrow as he falls down and jumps back up with ease as his stuffing keeps falling out. He shines with his strong tenor voice in his "If I Only Had a Brain" song and when the three friends harmonize especially in "Merry Old Land of Oz". I last reviewed him as Snoopy in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" in Mansfield, MA in 2007 and he has grown almost a foot in height since then. Tyler Begnoche also has a tenor voice, plays the kindhearted Tin Man who is lacking a heart. He moves around the stage limberly while dressed as the tin man. Tyler handles the pathos of this role, showing his heart has always been there in his touching scenes with Dorothy. He is marvelous with his "If I Only Had a Heart" song and he, Adam and Katie harmonize beautifully on it. Gian DiCostanzo plays the Lion who lacks courage. His boundless energy and acting prowess soars out to the audience. Gian is hilarious in "King of the Forest" song, milking every possible laugh from it with great facial expressions and delivery.One of the best dance numbers in this show is the Jitterbug. I never understood why it was cut out of the movie version because it has a catchy tune. Dorothy and her three friends not only Jitterbug, but do a tap dance and Charleston.
Another comic performance is by Tara Feeley as the Wicked Witch of the West and Miss Gulch. Her every appearance on stage will leave you laughing in the aisles as she scares the crap out of you with an evil laugh. is a whirling dervish who enters the scenes with a flourish and leaves just as quickly. The evil woman taunts Dorothy, threatening her life and the lives of her friends are brilliantly done and the audience loves the fire she hurls at the Scarecrow twice in the show. Tara is rewarded with some booing at her evil portrayal of this sinister woman at the curtain call. Nick Gaulin plays the Wizard of Oz and Professor Marvel bringing them to life with ease as he delivers his long lines as the Wizard. The good people in the show include 13 year old Dallas Jacquart as Glinda, who shows off her strong singing voice, Brooks Shatraw as Uncle Henry and Megan Kurczy as Auntie Em. Justin Viera shows off his strong singing voice as the gatekeeper of Oz as he leads them in "Merry Old Land of Oz". All the Munchkins and chorus members do a topnotch job especially the Lullaby girls ballet and the Lollipop league boys kick line. So for a marvelous musical treat be sure to join Dorothy , the scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion in their magical journey down the yellow brick road in "The Wizard of Oz". Looking forward to Encore's production of "Rent" in May.