Theatre Mirror Reviews - "WIZARD OF OZ"

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note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone



"THE WIZARD OF OZ"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone



We're off to see the wizard at Theatre by the Sea to celebrate the third musical of their 83rd season. This classic tale of Dorothy and Toto's adventure in Oz has melted hearts for more than seven decades with its unforgettable melodies and timeless themes of family, home and the courage to pursue dreams. Adapted from L. Frank Baum's enduring children's story, "The Wizard of Oz" follows a Kansas girl's journey over the rainbow where she meets the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion and other magical creatures. So audience members click your heels together and join Theatre by the Sea in traveling through the magical land of Oz to meet the Wizard to obtain your hearts' desires. Be sure to watch out for the Wicked Witch of the West and her winged monkeys as everyone explores this fantastic musical treat for the whole family. Director Billy Sprague Jr. who last directed "Spamalot" here in 2014, returns in triumph and with musical director Esther Zabinski as well as choreographer Marc Kimelman who pick the most talented performers for their show. This splendid stage version of this well known tale receives a thunderous ovation at the curtain call from the sold out crowd.

Billy not only blocks the show beautifully but creates some picture postcard moments that are marvelous. Marc's splendid dance numbers are stunning and include the Charleston, soft shoe dance and especially impressive is the Merry Old oz dance sequence. Esther conducts a seven piece orchestra while playing lead keyboards. She also taught the cast the beautiful and well known songs wonderfully. The set is by Kyle Dixon while the colorful costumes are by David Costa-Cabral. The cast is lead by Devon Perry who is a lovely young blond. Her "Over the Rainbow" is a standout rendition. Devon plays up the comic moments in the show but also stands up to Miss Gulch, the Wizard and the Wicked Witch. However the best special effect occurs during the tornado scene with the projection of the house twirling through the air to land in Oz. A touching moment occurs when she bids adieu to her best friends in Oz. This is the very heart of the show when Dorothy realizes everything she ever loved is right back at home in Kansas.

Dorothy's three friends are excellently portrayed by three terrific performers They capture every single comic moment with their clever repartee as well as tug at your heartstrings with the poignancy of the serious scenes, too. Stephen Petrovich as the Scarecrow is limber and lanky as he falls down and jumps back up with ease as his stuffing keeps falling out. His rubbery legs are a hoot, too. Stephen shines in his song "If I Only Had A Brain", where he displays his tenor voice. He is backed up by three crows played by Colin Shea Denniston, Tyler John Logan, and Davis Wayne. They do a marvelous song and dance during it. Danny Rothman who also has a tenor voice, plays the kindhearted Tin Man who is lacking a heart. He moves about the stage with ease while dressed as the Tin Man. Danny handles the pathos of this character superbly while showing his heart has always been there in his poignant scenes with Dorothy. In his "If I Only had a Heart" song, he is backed up by three Apple Trees, Danielle Marie Gonzalez-Quevedo, Nicolette Hernandez and Katie Lombardo. Danny does a dance to it which stops the show. I last reviewed Danny as Javert in Les Miserables at North Shore Music Theatre where he stopped the show with his excellent and riveting portrayal.Richard Waits plays the cowardly Lion who lacks courage. His boundless energy and acting prowess come through with his portrayal and song, "If I Only Had the Nerve." He really shines in "King of the Forest" song, milking every possible laugh from it with great facial expressions and delivery. One of the best dances is to "Merry Ole Oz" where Dorothy and her friends dance up a storm. I last reviewed Richard as Horse in "The Full Monty" at Theatre by the Sea in 2010. The chemistry between Dorothy and her three friends is sensational to behold.

Maria Day is fabulous as the Wicked Witch of the West. She scares the crap out of you while leaving you rolling in the aisles with laughter. Maria is a whirling dervish as she enters with a flourish and leaves just as quickly. The expert flying is handled by ZFX. Her evil taunts at Dorothy are priceless. Maria is also terrific as the repulsive harridan, Miss Gulch, too. Her threatening at killing the beloved Toto is terrifying to the audience. Brilliant and well done portrayal! She is the biggest scene stealer in both roles. Another comic character in the show is Tom Gleadow as the Wizard. He makes this curmudgeon come to life and also plays Professor Marvel. Tom's facial expressions and line deliveries are topnotch. I first saw Tom as Horace, another curmudgeon in "Hello, Dolly" back in 1985 at RIC. Rochelle Smith as the magical good witch Glinda displays her voice with the Munchkins in "Come Out" and "You're Out of the Woods." She also trained the dog for the show who is one of the best ones I have ever seen. The children deliver fabulous performances as the Munchkins with their singing and dancing prowess. Dorothy's family consists of Barbara McElroy as Aunt Em and Tom Roberts as Uncle Henry. Barbara is sympathetic as Em while Tom's one liner insults to the mean Miss Gulch are hilarious. So for a magnificent musical treat that the whole family can enjoy together, be sure to catch "The Wizard of Oz" at Theatre by the Sea before Dorothy returns to Kansas and you miss out on meeting The Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Lion. Run do not walk to the box office before tickets are sold out completely.

WIZARD OF OZ (20 July to 13 August)
Theatre by the Sea, 364 Cards Pond Road, Matunuck, RI
1(401)782-8587 or www.theatrebythesea.com




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