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REVIEW: The Wizard of Oz (Children’s Theatre Company)

Photo by Dan Norman.

The Wizard of Oz is a show that needs no introduction, so let’s dive right into some of the elements that make the current Children’s Theatre Company production the endearing gem that it is. First, this show (which opened on Friday) is visually fun to look at. The Kansas is appropriately flat and minimalist, and lit somewhat drably; Oz looks and feels like a different world entirely, with the candy-colored Munchkinland, the fantastically styled Oz, and the haunted house of the Wicked Witch’s castle. Scott Bradley’s set pops, and helps to convey a strong sense of journey in the show’s different episodes; this is strongly supported by Paul Hackenmueller’s excellent lighting. Helen Huang’s costumes are interesting and evoke the expected tropes while having a nice variation of their own. If first impressions count, this production gets off on a strong first foot with this trifecta.

The cast is fun to watch. Traci Allen Shannon makes an endearing and fresh-faced Dorothy, although the number of breaths in “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is a reminder of the common tradeoffs in casting younger actresses in this role. At present, her voice is pleasant; with a few years of additional training, it could be quite lovely. The rest of the group has a bit more oomph in the vocal department, notably including the performance by Dean Holt (The Scarecrow/Hunk). Mary Fox as Miss Almira Gultch/The Wicked Witch is simply delicious.

CTC’s The Wizard of Oz features a live dog as Toto, much to the audience’s delight. That’s the operative word for this production.

The Scarecrow (Dean Holt) jumps for joy. Photo by Dan Norman.
The Scarecrow (Dean Holt) jumps for joy. Photo by Dan Norman.
The Cowardly Lion (Reed Sigmund), Tin Man (Bradley Greenwald), Dorothy (Traci Allen Shannon), and Scarecrow (Dean Holt) head towards the Emerald City. Photo by Dan Norman.
Basil Considine