Veteran director Vincent Worthington, who also serves as Set Designer and Lighing Designer of Pied Piper Theatre, masterfully lead Piped Piper Theatre’s first musical production at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on Saturday, January 25, 2014. A sure crowd-pleaser, the musical opened to an enthusiastic sold-out audience of families and patron arts supporters.
Author L. Frank Baum, born into an affluent New York family in 1856 was sickly, sheltered, and bashful as a child and coped by creating a cadre of imaginary friends. He also wrote stories for psychic escape, and eventually developed a thirst for acting. It is fitting that the theme of self-confidence, self-belief, and self-fulfillment form the foundation for his much loved story.
As we know, no life story is complete without the acknowledgement of the effects of parental power in childhood. We are not born with self-confidence and naturally lack belief in ourselves and are protected and controlled by adults who over rule us until we mature enough to convince ourselves that we are loveable and have the will, intellect and bravery to advance our own cause.
Baum’s classic children’s novel originally written and published in 1900 as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was also produced in a popular 1902 Broadway musical and in the well-known 1939 Hollywood film adaptation, The Wizard of Oz. It is no stretch of one’s imagination to say that nearly every person at some age in their lives has either seen, read, or heard some portion, if not all, of the Oz story. Celebrating its 75th anniversary since the 1939 Oz production, the 1989 adaptation by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company follows the whimsical story of a young orphaned girl, Dorothy (Grace Klebine), her Uncle Henry (Nick Lear), and Aunt Em (Sarah Jane Scott ), who live on a farm in Kansas at the end of the 19th Century. Times are tough on the prairie for they are living in a drought at the mercy of cyclones and tornadoes.
Dorothy’s character represents innocence, youth, and a whimsical naiveté in addition to her lack of self-confidence, self-belief and self-fulfillment. By attributing the same human characteristics to the Scarecrow (Danny Waldman), who believes that he has no brains; the Tin Woodsman (Burke Romans-Murray), who believes that he lacks a heart; and the Cowardly Lion (Wesley Diener), who believes that he has no courage, Baum allows himself to return to issues important to him in his childhood and universal to all children.
I, like, as millions of others do, the use of the “yellow brick road.” We all know that we travel a road in life where all sorts of things happen to us; some good, others not so much. Regardless, however, we pick ourselves up and continue on. Also, it is touching when Glinda explains that Dorothy has always had the power to get “home.” Truthfully, we only have to believe in our abilities and ourselves and make that choice.
Vincent Worthington’s Set Design and Andrea Oswald’s lush and colorful period costumes were jaw-droppingly exquisite and gorgeous. Kristine Worley’s choreography was energetic and hats off to her ability to synchronize 48 young dancers and actors. And kudos to Musical Director Laura Boyles. What a huge challenge and what a major accomplishment!
There were so many highlights, but here are my favorites: Grace Klebine, who plated Dorothy showed so much confidence and sang her songs so well in this big role for such a young girl. I loved Burke Romans-Murray’s animated performance as the Tin Woodsman. Sarah Jane Scott played several characters: Auntie Em/Glinda/Tree/Ozian/and Jitterbug, and performed like a veteran actor. David Waldman’s performance as the Scarecrow has great vocal delivery. Nick Lear was terrific as Uncle Henry/Winkie General, Snowflake, and Ozian, and Eli Ayers’ performances as Nikko, Snowflake, and Ozian showed great enunciation.Trevor Telesz as ProfessorMarvel, Snowflake, Guard, and The Wizard of Oz, and Jitterbug gave a strong, humorous, and smooth performance as the Wizard.
Two actors were Scene Stealers: Wesley Diener (Cowardly Lion) showed great vocal prowess – Broadway quality singing and acting. Rebecca Parsons, who played Ms. Gultch and the Wicked Witch of the West was so fabulous and scary and enjoyable and so Green! I giggled right along with the many children and parents in the packed audience watching this star-making performance..
Bravo to Pied Piper Theatre for the enthusiasm and pride that families rightly felt for these budding young actors, outstanding musicians, and designers.There was a lot of love and effort that went into this production! I can’t wait to see what they do next in their new home!
I took my 3 year-old granddaughter Malia to see the show and she sang and danced along throughout the performance. I am looking forward to taking her with me to future Pied Piper Theatre productions.
Running Time: Three hours and 45 minutes, including a 30-minute intermission.
The Wizard of Oz played on January and 25-26, 2014 at Pied Piper Theatre performing at Hylton Performing Arts Center – 10960 George Mason Circle, in Manassas, VA. For future events visit their website.
Credits: Becky Scott (Producer); Cindy Waldman (Producer); David Meeker (Technical Director); Laura Boyles (Music Director); Kristine Worley (Choreographer); Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg (Music and Lyrics); Herbert Stothart (Background Music); Larry Wilcox (Orchestration); Peter Howard (Dance and Vocal Arrangements); Meredyth Stirling (Accompanist); David Walsh (Sound Designer); Andrea Oswald (Costumer); Robbie O’Brien (Stage Manager); and Bella Worley (Toto).