The Wizard of Oz
by Christian Youth Theater
It was penned more than 100 years ago, transformed into one of the biggest blockbuster films of all time 70 years ago, and is still today enchanting us with new performers and creative wrinkles thanks to the magic of live theatre. Like Christian Youth Theater’s recent production at Pacific Beach Middle School in San Diego directed by Katie Wilson, a director who clearly has a great eye for the show and for casting it.
Sarah De La Isla stars as Dorothy Gale whose dreams of going to a land Over the Rainbow result in the discovery of Oz. She fills the role with a terrific sense for humor, an infectious delight in the surprises and discoveries made over the rainbow, and a nice voice to sing about it all. She’s also a quarter of a very impressive quartet, with the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion working together with natural ease and hilarity. Jacob Cruz is brainless whose attempts to scare a plastic crow fail miserably despite sneaking up and giving it some “booga-booga” that would definitely have scared the crows back in Kansas. He also shamelessly screams bloody murder when the monkeys tear his straw legs off and throw them about. Carelessly tossing those legs back to the whining Scarecrow is Tyler Tafolla as the heartless Tin Man who gets a little freaked out as enthusiastic singing Ozians burnish his tin body, eventually hiding his head into his shell like a turtle as he tries to find an internal happy place. Colin Arnold is the cowardly king of beasts whose fear is frightfully funny both for us and for his friends who poke good-natured fun at their scaredy-cat throughout.
Of course, not everyone is a friend of Dorothy. The same wicked old witch who tries to take Toto in Kansas is trying to take her ruby slippers in Oz. Laura Hopkins is the Wicked Witch/Miss Gultch who loves to make the little Munchkins scream repeatedly, waves to us from inside twisters, and leads the singing as her dancing jitterbugs wear down our four heroes. Magicians that are a bit more friendly to Dorothy include Kiani Nelson as a kindly Glinda and Daniel Sack in his theatrical debut as the Wizard of Oz/Professor Marvel, and it’s a remarkable debut with great characterizations and use of voice, both talking and singing (the latter of which we see in an added reprise of Over the Rainbow).
The cast is rounded out by many very excited, talented, and happy-go-lucky young Munchkins, a town full of tap-happy Ozians who dance and sing and make you want to live somewhere that’s green from the moment our gate guard host (Taylor Wuthrich) lets us in, and a bunch of dance-crazy jitterbugs. All of them shine in exceptional choreography by Danielle Levas, helping make this trip in the twister a most memorable one. Which, in fact, it was: black lighting allowing us to see some happy, some terrified farm animals being whipped around the stage by the tornado, not to mention seeing the singular socks of the Wicked Witch of the East trying to run from Dorothy’s descending farmhouse.She didn’t make it.
Performed February 21 - 28, 2009.
~ Cast ~
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