‘Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz’ at Pumpkin Theatre by Amanda Gunther

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There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home! Except of course the Pumpkin Theatre a second home to many area children who love the arts and entertainment. And this time they’re bringing to their main stage the timeless L. Frank Baum classic as only they can tell it. Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz takes the children of all ages (and children at heart) on a magical journey somewhere over the rainbow! All the recognizable characters are there— and as a special treat— all of the audience members get to be Munchkins! With a meet-n-greet experience with Glinda the good witch of the north the moment people begin to arrive at the theatre, the family-friendly atmosphere is more than apparent and great for any young lover of theatre.

Director Raine Bode makes a whimsical adaptation of this literary classic just for the children. A highly interactive production, this version of the show keeps the audience on their toes, quite literally! With Munchkin helpers who are invited up to the stage to help with very important tasks like re-stuffing Scarecrow’s straw or wiping away Tin Man’s tears so he doesn’t rust up, the show is fun for everyone involved. And there’s lots of fun call-and-response activities for those that might be a little too shy to venture up on the stage. Getting the chance to interact with the performers makes this production especially good for children, inviting them and engaging them to partake in the story. Watch out for the Wicked Witch, though, as she’s constantly trying to convince everyone to do things her way!

Dorothy (Clare Peyton), Scarecrow (Kelsey Painter), Tin Man (Derek Cooper), and Lion (B. Thomas Rinaldi). Photo courtesy of Pumpkin Theatre.
Dorothy (Clare Peyton), Scarecrow (Kelsey Painter), Tin Man (Derek Cooper), and Lion (B. Thomas Rinaldi). Photo courtesy of Pumpkin Theatre.

Costume Designer Kendra Shaupanus takes her cues directly from the film, the iconic blue checkered dress and shiny red slippers looking as if they walked straight out of the MGM vault make Dorothy easily recognizable to everyone. The same can be said of the magical friends Dorothy meets along the way. Shaupanus’s distinction in the production comes from her witch designs— Glinda has a more spring-appropriate dress, something much simpler for gardening while still looking whimsical and elegant. And the Wicked Witch isn’t a full-faced green monster but bedecked and witchy clothing and great highlighting makeup.

Scenic Designer Ryan Michael Haase keeps the emerald and yellow-brick-road themes live and well represented in his designs. While his production makes no official mention of the famed road, there are yellow arrows all over the floor and walls serving as guides for Dorothy during her moments of travel. The whole floor and various wall accents sparkle in a bright shade of Emerald, letting us know that we’re never really all that far away from Oz.

The performers are terrific. They are engaging for the children and have a fantastic ability to interact with the children while still keeping the show moving, no matter what happens, Glinda (Courtney Proctor) in particular has a charming way with everyone in the audience, it’s no wonder she makes turning everyone into a tree-forest so much fun! Proctor’s ability to relate to the children in a captivating way is impressive and makes for a jolly good time for all.

As for The Wicked Witch of the West (Valarie Perez-Schere) she’s downright witchy-poo! Balancing that comedic aspect with the maniacal laughter (so as not to be too scary for the younger members of the audience) she hits the head on the nail when trying to be the bad guy. She has the perfect evil cackle and all the right funky witch moves.

The loveable band of friends that Dorothy makes along way include Scarecrow (Kelsey Painter) Tin Man (Derek Cooper) and Lion (B Thomas Rinaldi.) Painter is a great fun character on the stage, constantly cart-wheeling and really enticing the kids with her antics. Cooper is the epitome of melodrama for kids with his super hysterics— every little thing makes him cry, and it’s really funny, giving the audience a few extra chances to shout out “Don’t cry, Tin Man!” And rounding off the trio, Rinaldi is a carbon copy of the movie lion we all love so much, with his “Fraidy-Cat” action and loveable personality, he’s the cat’s meow on stage.

PumpkinWizard (1)And we can’t forget Dorothy (Clare Peyton) who is simply sweet as can be and very encouraging. Peyton keeps a sunny disposition even when things look dark and scary, reassuring those who might be a little scared that it’ll be ok soon!

Children are encouraged to dress up as their favorite Wizard of Oz character to feel like even more of a part of the performance and there is a character meet and greet after each show. So skip along over the rainbow to this super fun-filled afternoon!

Running Time: Approximately 60 minutes, with no intermission.

Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz plays through March 24, 2013 at Pumpkin Theatre— Saint Timothy’s Campus – 8400 Greenspring Avenue, in Stevenson, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (410) 828-1814, or purchase them online.

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Amanda Gunther is an actress, a writer, and loves the theatre. She graduated with her BFA in acting from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and spent two years studying abroad in Sydney, Australia at the University of New South Wales. Her time spent in Sydney taught her a lot about the performing arts, from Improv Comedy to performance art drama done completely in the dark. She loves theatre of all kinds, but loves musicals the best. When she’s not working, if she’s not at the theatre, you can usually find her reading a book, working on ideas for her own books, or just relaxing and taking in the sights and sounds of her Baltimore hometown. She loves to travel, exploring new venues for performing arts and other leisurely activities. Writing for the DCMetroTheaterArts as a Senior Writer gives her a chance to pursue her passion of the theatre and will broaden her horizons in the writer’s field.