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‘The Wizard of Oz’ at Children’s Theatre of Annapolis

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Based on the children’s books by L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz tells the story of young Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, who are swept out of Kansas by a cyclone and transported to the magical land of Oz. There she goes on an epic journey to find the Wizard, who is her only hope of returning home. Along the way she befriends a brainless scarecrow, a heartless tin man, and a cowardly lion. Together they embark on a quest to find the Wizard and have their longings fulfilled.

Cast of Wizard of Oz. Photo by Kathleen Ouellette.

The cast of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Photo by Kathleen Ouellette.

Children’s Theatre of Annapolis’ production of The Wizard of Oz was truly wonderful. Julia Rach, who portrays Dorothy, was phenomenal! From the moment she entered the stage, Julia’s performance as Dorothy was engaging and contagiously energetic. In addition to her acting abilities, her vocal chops also shone through. Her rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was not only heartwarming, but also vocally sublime.

Accompanying Dorothy on her journey was Jordan Sledd (the Scarecrow), Zachary Roth (the Tin Man), and Austin Dare (the Cowardly Lion). The three were an excellent trio. It was quite apparent that Jordan Sledd, though portraying a thoughtless character, has great wit as an actor. His vocals in “If I Only Had a Brain,” paired with his physical comedy, brought a reality to the character that was unconventional and intriguing. Zachary Roth was far from stiff and heartless in his portrayal of the Tin Man. His commanding stage presence, superb vocals in “If I Only Had a Heart,” and smart physicality created an endearing and memorable performance. Austin Dare gave a performance of the Cowardly Lion that was the perfect mix of crown-worthy and cuddly. His rendition of “King of the Forest” was side-splitting!

Ally Baca (The Wicked Witch of the West). Photo by Kathleen Ouellette.

Ally Baca (The Wicked Witch of the West). Photo by Kathleen Ouellette.

Speaking of side-splitting, Ally Baca was hilariously sinister as the Wicked Witch of the West. Her comedic timing was impeccable and her performance of “Jitterbug” was astounding. In stark contrast to the Wicked Witch, Marisa Roper was practically perfect as Glinda. Her beautiful vocals in “Munchkinland,” matched with her blissfully calming presence, were a breath of fresh air.

What would Glinda be without her munchkins? The munchkins, as well as the entire ensemble were definitely on point. The ensemble members had the difficult task of portraying numerous roles. However, they certainly rose to the occasion. The show was full of unique, exuberant, and wacky characters. In addition to an entire spectrum of characters, came a diverse span of costumes. The costume department, headed by Michelle Lucente and Kathleen Ouellette, clearly put a great deal of thought and time into each costume. This is saying something as there were easily over 100 costumes!

Another person who had their work cut out for them was Kathy Garrity, who headed the makeup department. She did a spectacular job of creating visually stunning characters, such as the Wicked Witch, Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow.

Props designers Sue Konick and Tina Williams created props that added another level of greatness to the show. Miss Gulch’s bicycle, as well as the crow puppets in the Scarecrow scene and the cow puppet in the cyclone scene were just a few examples of their genius work.

While we are on the subject of genius, Todd Croteau and Beth Wilson fabricated brilliant and vibrant moveable set pieces. Some notable pieces included the Wicked Witch’s Castle and the Emerald City.

Another person who deserves praise for their work is light designer and technical director Chris Timko. Upon entering the auditorium, Chris Timko’s green lighting sets the mood. From their, the lighting and special effects only get better as the show progresses. Between the Witch’s entrance effect and the lighting in Oz’s chamber, Timko’s lighting and effects come together to form a visually engulfing presentation.

Last but certainly not least, Jason Kimmell’s choreography was intelligent and exciting. Two numbers that really stood out were “Jitterbug” and “Merry Old Land of Oz”.

Cast of Wizard of Oz. Photo by Kathleen Ouellette.

The cast of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Photo by Kathleen Ouellette.

Anyone who has a brain will not want to miss this merry old, wonderful production! Full of dazzling sets, captivating characters, delightful music (by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg), and charming choreography, this is a production you will not want to miss!

Come travel over the rainbow to CTA and see this magical production! of The Wizard of Oz.

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The Wizard of Oz plays for only one more weekend  on January 16 and 17th at 7:30 pm and January 17 and 18th at 2:00 pm. For tickets, call (410) 757-2281 (extension 5), buy them at the door, or purchase them online.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif

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