Photos by Len Struttmann
|Daniel Kelchen as The Cowardly Lion, Melissa Tormene as Dorothy,|
Jonathan Schmidt as The Tin Man, Michael Range as the Scarecrow
And now, a brief summary for the one person who has never seen The Wizard of Oz: Kansas-born Dorothy dreams of going to a place over the rainbow to escape her drab life and keep her dog, Toto, safe from the unreasonably mean Elmira Gulch. A tornado transports her to a magical land called Oz, where she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. Only the Wizard of Oz can send her home, but before he’ll do that, he demands she defeat the Wicked Witch of the West.
Melissa Tormene is lovely as Dorothy. Her voice absolutely soars when she sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Michael Range as the Scarecrow brings a wonderful physicality to his performance. A fantastic dancer, Range is fun to watch as he careens across stage as the straw filled man. Scene stealer Daniel Kelchen uses his wide eyes to portray all of the Lion’s fear and fun. He is clearly an audience favorite as the woman seated directly in front of me howled at his every wacky expression. Jonathan Schmidt is perfectly suited to the role of the emotional Tin Man. In a bit of gender blind casting, director Leslie Charipar chose David Morton for the role of the Wicked Witch. Morton is perfect in the role, employing an evil cackle that sent my daughter into my arms whenever he appeared on stage.
|David Morton as the Wicked|
Witch of the West
I have to mention Sydney Speltz as Nikko, the commander of the winged monkeys. While she doesn't have any lines, she is absolutely captivating with her physical performance. The rest of the winged monkeys, played by the kids who portrayed the Munchkins, were fun to watch, though they were just a little too cute to be really scary.
Costume designer Joni Sackett deserves kudos for creating so many colorful costumes. From the green Osians' duds to the Winkies' military uniforms, the threads add so much to the fairy-tale feel of the show. Set designer Bret Gothe’s set is well done and effective, though the yellow brick road is so subtle, I almost missed it. Excellent use of trapdoors and flown scenery create the magic of the show. Music Director Janelle Lauer gets the most out of her talented singers. The incidental music used at various moments in the show is good too. I especially appreciated hearing "Ease on Down the Road" from The Wiz during intermission.