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Corona del Mar High School took an entertaining stroll down the yellow brick road in the fast-paced musical The Wiz.  L. Frank Baum started it all with his novel The Wonderful Wizard in Oz in 1900.   It was made into a stage musical in 1902 when it had a successful run as The Wizard of Oz.  Baum went on to write 13 sequels to the novels and started his own film production company.  Multiple film versions were made until the iconic 1939 version made immortal with Judy Garland as Dorothy.  In 1974 her daughter Liza Minelli was Dorothy in the animated film, Journey Back to Oz.  Broadway welcomed the latest incarnation, The Wiz:  The Super Soul Musical Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  While the producer considered closing the show, it went on to become a hit winning 7 Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Original Score.  With the hugely successful Wicked musical, Baum’s characters continue to get new life in new shows. 

Following the familiar story, we find Dorothy in Kansas where she soon encounters a tornado visualized in the Tornado Ballet.  Once she lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, she is soon greeted by the Munchkins which are played here like country bumpkins.  The Good Witch of the North is Addaperle, a good-time girl, and she suggests that Dorothy will find a way home in Oz with the wizard.  On that journey, as she Eases on Down The Road, she meets the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Lion.  Along the way they encounter everything from crows to poppies and even a dancing yellow brick road.  Once in Oz, the Wiz says that the only way these four friends can get home is by killing the Wicked Witch of the West.  After successfully melting her, they return to Oz only to find out that the Wizard is a fraud.  Glinda, The Good Witch, finally helps Dorothy in realizing that the way home is to believe in herself. 

The Director, Ronald Knight Martin, keeps the show moving briskly down that yellow brick road.   Calli Conti gives an energetic performance as Dorothy, the little girl lost.  Dorothy’s trio of friends offers her very strong support with Ben Carlson as the Lion, James Conger as the Scarecrow and Brian Smith as the Tin Man.  Carlson garners the Lion share of laughs with his lively performance.  Sarah Schulte is non-traditionally cast in the title role as The Wiz.  Schulte is a showstopper with a powerful voice and a larger-than-life stage persona.  The trio of witches, Carlie Rinehart as Addaperle, Heather Shields as Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West and Sienna Petree as Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, each bring distinctive choices to their roles. Rinehart brings a comic edge, Petree (who doubles as Aunt Em) has a wonderful voice, and Shields takes the ugly, rotund character of Evillene in a different direction with a sexy, dominatrix interpretation.   This connects to the other more unique departure for the Corona del Mar version of The Wiz.  Evillene’s flying monkeys are now shirtless muscle guys in leather chaps with a nod to the Chippendale dancers.  

Cami Marseilles choreography is one of the strongest elements of the show featuring the dancers in both The Tornado Ballet and Everybody Rejoice.  Sophia Dawidoff is impressive as the featured Tornado dancer.  The ensemble deserves special mention from switching effortlessly from munchkins, to Ozians to slaves in Evillene’s castle. 

Corona del Mar delivered a high energy, engaging and vibrant production of The Wiz, which made many unique contributions to this classic tale. 

Performed April 30 - May 8, 2010 

Robert Rotenberry
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Aunt Em/Glinda: Sienna Petree
Dorothy: Calli Conti
Uncle Henry: Matt Funsten
Tornado: Sophia Dawidoff
Addaperle: Carlie Rinehart
Scarecrow: James Conger
Tinman: Brian Smith
Jenna Funsten
Kristina Kahveciyan
Megan Lambert
Melissa Mooney
Lion: Ben Carlson
Gate Keeper: Rich Posert
Wizard: Sarah Schulte
Lord High Underling: Braden Cooley
Evillene: Heather Shields

Kyle Kreunan
Kacey Leggio
Kevin Hoffman
Alec Reiss
Clayton Reienhardt
Tim Reinhardt
Jenna Chatillion
Alyssa Evans
Christian Freire
Julia Kerr
Alysha Kundanmal
Samantha Serra
Sarah Woods

Jenna Rose Alder
Amanda Amundson
Bailey Ashton
Alex Berkman
Kensey Conti
Lauren Fox
Gina Hesp
Michelle Kmeto
Erica Lesko
Briana Petrosky
Annabel Pidgeon
Sam Rosol
Kristen Rossi
Cara Wien
Crystal Ying
Kristina Zahabi

~ Orchestra ~
Conductor: Val Jamora
Piano/Keyboard: Chris Ring
Flute/Alto Sax: Alyse Thompson
Clarinet: Yugina Yun
Bari Sax: Jon Alser
Tenor Sax: King Solomon Bussell
Trumpet: Katie Groke, Kirby Morrow
Trombone: Len Wicks, Donald Kim, Rachael Somerville
Violin: Corrine Olsen, Mary Lee, Henry Chang, Evan Davies
Cello: Takashi Takiguchi
Guitar: Travis Barett
Bass: Steven Liu
Drums: Andrew Groke
Percussion: Michael Rydzinski

Director: Ronald Knight Martin
Choreography: Cami Marseilles
Musical Direction: Allison Ross
Light/Set Design: Sean Small
Stage Manager: Kaylyn Nese
Asst. Stage Managers: David Pisors and Carla Vigueras
Sound Production: Winston Hollingshead
Lighting Production: Daniel Flaxman
Makeup Design: Chanel Lucia
House Manager: Amanda Stephenson



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