Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Wizard of Oz"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2002 by Tony Annicone

"The Wizard of Oz"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Bay Colony Productions current show at the Orpheum Regional Arts Center is the "The Wizard Of Oz". The talented cast of over 30 adults and 30 children bring this classic tale to life with the expertise of director, Bill Cunnigham, musical director, Rob Goldman and choreographer, Marianne Lonati. The fantastic sets by David DaCosta and gorgeous costumes by Daniel Kozar are breathtaking and the special effects are excellently executed by Kevin Mischley. Even though many people consider this show to be only for children, this version is to be enjoyed by everyone due to its high production values and brilliant presentation, making it a show not to be missed.

Bill casts Dorothy and her 3 friends to perfection with their outstanding vocal, acting and dancing talents. He has a good eye for detail(loved the both aisles decorated as the Yellow Brick Road) and makes sure this enormous cast lives up to the standards set by the movie version. Bill's cast and crew pull it off with nary a misstep along the way. Rob Goldman makes the musical numbers seem fresh and new as he leads his wonderful orchestra and his vocalists. The important part of a musical is to be sure all the words of the songs are heard and understood. Rob hits the mark with each one, keeping the orchestra and singers in perfect balance with each other. (this is the first show I've seen Rob do but he is a veteran musical director of over 200 shows) The choreography of this huge cast should be an insurmountable task but Marianne accomplishes it with ease. Whether it is the munchkin dances or the leading players dances, this cast excells at the routines they are given. The mos! t outstanding moment is "The Jitterbug". (I never understood why this number was cut out of the movie because it is one of the best things in the show) Not only do the jitterbugs dance up a storm but Dorothy and her 3 friends also keep up with them, too. Bravo on a job well done.

Leading this superb cast as Dorothy is Nicole Davis who's voice is beautiful and soars in all her numbers. She is not only as cute as a button but she is a fabulous triple threat actress, too. Nicole plays the comedy of the role wonderfully but she also makes you feel empathy for Dorothy when the horrible Miss Gulch wants to put Toto death for biting her 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. This is the very heart of the play where she realizes everything she ever loved is right back in Kansas at home. Nicole is a very talented young lady who will go far in show biz.

Dorothy's three friends, Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion are played fabulously by Michael Warner, Brian Gustafson and Jeff Mahoney. Their sining voices are magnificent, making you believe they are really these characters. Michael shines in his song backed up by singing crows while Brian does the same in his verse backed up by singing trees. Jeff almost steals the show with his antics as the cowardly lion. His delivery is a hoot. These guys not only sing and act well but they dance expertly, too. Michael is limber and lanky in his movements, falling all over the stage with ease and jumping back up again while Brian who is well over six feet tall moves quite well dressed as the tinman. Brian also gets the pathos of this role across to the audience showing his heart has always been there with his touching scenes with Dorothy. Jeff's boundless energy flows all night long while dressed in a suit of fur and he really excells as this crazy, zany Lion. Three talented men who will do well i! n any roles in the future.

The biggest scene stealer of the night is D.B. Kozar as the wicked witch of the West. He does an absolutely hysterical turn as this horrible woman complete with the right vocal delivery and expressions. D.B. makes this character a whirling dervish who enters the stage with a flourish and leaves just as quickly. Bravo. Another scene stealer is Dave Letendre as the redheaded gatekeeper at Oz. He is clad in a bright green suit, has an hilarious voice for his lines and an excellent singing voice, too. The other leading players who do a wonderful job in their roles include Rachel Fisher-Parkman, (Aunt Em) David DaCosta, (Uncle Henry)(David also did the fantastics sets with gorgeous backdrops of Oz, the Emerald City, the Wizard's set as well as the moveable sets and the house and cellar door, too.)Cathy Corcoran(Miss Gulch) Dan Moore(Wizard) and Aimee Doherty(Glinda) (who's excellent soprano voice shines in her songs) Everyone else including the munchkins, the crows, the trees and t! he other talented people who make this show a success deserve a round of applause and the whole cast gets their reward with a standing ovation at the close of the show. (One of the boys with a powerful voice is Brett Calo as the coroner who played Oliver previously.)

So for a musical treat be sure to join Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tinman and the Lion in their magical journey in "The Wizard of Oz". Tell them Tony sent you. You will not only enjoy this show but you'll admire the beauty of the Orpheum Theatre in Foxboro, too. So call the box office or on the internet at www.orpheum.org

"The Wizard of Oz" (24 January - 2 February)
BAY COLONY PRODUCTIONS
Orpheum Regional Arts Center, 1 School Street, FOXBORO, MA
1 (508) 543-ARTS (2787)

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