Review: ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theatre

I don’t think this is Virginia anymore, Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz transported the audience from Munchkin Land to the Emerald City all down a yellow brick road.

This production of The Wizard of Oz is based on the 1904 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by Frank L. Baum, with music from the hit 1939 movie musical by the same name. The Wizard of Oz is considered a household name, children of all ages don Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion costumes for Halloween, and the love for this novel and movie have spiraled into songs, plays and TV shows, including The Wiz, Wicked, and Emerald City.

Chloe Sinn as Dorothy. Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theatre.

As soon as the curtain opened for opening night I was taken back by the set, designed by Suzanne Parrish. From simplistic Kansas to a fun and colorful Munchkin Land, to a glowing green emerald city (with automatic opening doors to reveal the great and powerful Oz) to even the witch’s castle, each set was dramatically different, featuring multiple moving parts. Because of how many set pieces there are it caused extremely long transition periods between scenes, which I think will be tightened up with each run of the show.

The costumes, designed by Laura Marshall and Pam Peckar, are straight out of a children’s book. The many munchkins all wore shades of purple and blue, while the Ozians all wore green tones and of course Dorothy wore her signature blue dress with sparkly red heels (that I would die to wear)!

Taking this production to the next level were the projections, designed by Director Frank Pasqualino, who also created the wonderful video effects, bringing the audience a virtual tornado, a projected scary Oz and a look into the witch’s magic picture screen. It definitely added to the magic of Oz.

The cast of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theatre.

Leading the show was Chloe Sinn as young Dorothy. While Sinn is only an 8th grader her voice is mature far beyond her years, showcased heavily in “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”! Sinn’s sweet portrayal of Dorothy brought the same youth and nativity as well as killer vocals that everyone loves in Judy Garland’s Dorothy.

Two of Dorothy’s travel companions, the Scarecrow (Stuart Conrad) and Tin Man (Brevan Collins) really channeled this iconic characters. Conrad graced the audience with his comedic “If I Only Had a Brain” while Collins showcased his vocals in “If I Only Had a Heart.” As the show began Collins carried the mechanical movements of the Tin Man which really added to his character, as the show progressed and the character transformed into a more humanistic man Collins changed into less robotic movements including a charming dance, choreographed by Gennifer Difilippo-Williams, whose choreography was so energetic and enjoyable. Music Director Wayne Chadwick did a wonderful job, adding to the magic of this enjoyable production.

Stealing the spotlight and heart of all was Charlie Maass as the Lion. His comedic timing and timid persona really brought the cowardly lion to life, like Collins as the show progressed Maass was able to allow his character to grow and begin showing courage and help Dorothy kill the Wicked Witch.

Ashtyn Spring as The Wicked Witch of the West. Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theatre.

Speaking of witch, Ashtyn Spring and Viana Schlapp as the Wicked Witch and Glinda respectively wowed the audience with Spring’s menacing laugh and Schlapp’s bubbly vocals (“Munchkinland”). Also a guest appearance by two visiting witches (Rachel Baker and Lauren Koelsch) who had a comedic scene with Spring and even called her Elphaba which was a funny find for all Wicked fans.

Other standout performances include: Nat Boling as the terrible yet giving Wizard of Oz, Joel Simpson as the rebelling Ozian Private, Anastasia Tuffin showcased her beautiful voice as Gloria, the duo of David Anthony and Scotia Millar as the Munchkin Mayor and Munchkin Farmer respectively, and Charlotte Teeples as the Witch sidekick, Tibia.

MVCCT’s The Wizard of Oz returns to the stage after originally performing it 7 years ago. If you missed it then, or even saw it then (like I did), it’s not one to miss! Featuring classics like “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” “We’re Off to See the Wizard” and “Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead,” this production of The Wizard of Oz brings the magic people remember and love from the originally movie to the stage.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with a 20-minute intermission.

Additional performances are tonight, March 25th and April 1st at 7:30pm, March 26th and April 2nd at 3:00pm at Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theatre performing at Bryant Alternative High School – 2709 Popkins Lane, in Alexandria, VA. For tickets, buy them at the box office, or purchase them online.