'Wizard of Oz' blows audiences awayA couple weeks ago I dreamt I was in Kansas. Then I was in Oz. Dorothy was there. So was a cowardly lion, a tinman, a scarecrow…and Toto, too.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
A couple weeks ago I dreamt I was in Kansas. Then I was in Oz. Dorothy was there. So was a cowardly lion, a tinman, a scarecrow…and Toto, too. There was a screeching wicked witch and a sweet, angelic good witch. It seemed so real. I could have sworn Judy Garland was prancing around a stage right before my very eyes.
Turns out, it wasn’t a dream. It was real. I was at the Alexandria Area Arts Association Theatre (AAAA). And the drama unfolding on the stage, The Wizard of Oz, was so amazing I thought I really was in Munchkinland.
I have seen quite a few plays at AAAA over the years, but I will have to say, The Wizard of Oz was probably one of the best. I sat though it entranced by the acting, the attention to detail, the singing, the costumes, the makeup – all so similar to the movie I have watched hundreds of times. I kept thinking, “I can’t believe how good this is.”
From the second Dorothy, played by Amanda Richards, stepped on stage, she totally blew me away with her talent. The way she looked, the way she recited her lines, the sound of her voice, the expressions on her face, the intonation in her delivery, her body movements, her beautiful voice – Amanda WAS Dorothy. It was uncanny. She stole the show. I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with her performance. Amanda, if you continue acting and singing of this caliber, one day, New York’s Broadway “will get you, my pretty.”
Praise must be given to whomever cast the play. Every role in the entire production seemed to have just the right person for the part. Cody Saurdiff couldn’t have been a more perfect scarecrow – deceptively intelligent, gangly and bumbling across the stage; Ben Stoeck as the Cowardly Lion was so endearing – he courageously tackled the lion’s laugh and “r” roll with perfection; and when the Tinman, Gabriel Myrin, sang, I sure was glad I had a heart. Becky Byrne as Glinda the Good Witch looked and sounded just like Glinda in the movie.
And Lindsey Johnston as the Wicked Witch of the West – Oh My Gosh! Funny, scary and screechingly accurate. Her cauldron of talent bubbled over.
The Wizard of Oz, the Munchkins, the Ozians, the monkeys – everyone had their roles down pat. But a few of the actors in the lesser-known roles deserve recognition for stealing the show.
Even though she was in the spotlight for only 30 seconds, Daintree Rensink as the coroner had the entire audience laughing hysterically with her rendition of the coroner’s song. It was perfect! It was one of my favorite scenes. And the angry apple trees – Sam Willard, Jack Stoeck and Lars Markeson – in their two-minute tirade against Dorothy and her minions, also had the audience in stitches. It was spot-on.
Of course, if not for the costumes and the makeup, this incredible likeness to the movie version of The Wizard of Oz would never have been possible. Hats off to Stacy Olejar for her role in helping the actors sew up their roles so succinctly, and to Dianne Tomoson and Dave Christman for making up such believable characters. I was in awe how much both contributed to the overall excellence, ambience and accuracy of the play.
The Alexandria community is so lucky to have an organization such as the AAAA, not to mention the hundreds of people who toil and trouble to produce arts events of this caliber to the area – both behind the scenes and on the stage. This play was a much-needed reminder of the deep pool of talent and dedication to the arts we have right here in Alexandria.
So, if it’s your heart’s desire to see a Broadway show in New York City, step into your ruby slippers, click your heels three times, and say, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
When you wake up, you might realize that all along, Broadway was in your own back yard.