Wootton’s ‘Wizard’ wows with wondrously wonderful performance!

April 2, 2012

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Adam Barton, a student at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School , reviews The Wizard of Oz, performed by Thomas Wootton High School , as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program .

I can think of no better way to spend St. Paddy’s day than to pay a visit to the Emerald City. Luckily, Wootton High School was happy to oblige with its captivating production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Prior to its 1939 film debut, L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” saw numerous stage and screen adaptations, including several silent films and a very profitable musical production. With its launch, the movie took off, becoming an instant classic with its revolutionary use of Technicolor and special effects, and ended up inspiring a tidal wave of reinterpretations, translations, comic books, and spin-offs, most notably the book-turned-Broadway-blockbuster “Wicked.” Sticking true to the original music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, Wootton High School follows John Kane’s adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz,” which takes us from Dorothy’s farmyard home, where she lives her caring Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, as well as three bumbling farmhands, through the magical land of Oz, and all the way back home again.

In the lead role of Dorothy, Kayli Modell shined. Her voice was truly outstanding--able to hit even the highest of notes with ease and precision, and her acting was on-point throughout. She stayed true to her character, replicating perfectly the well-remembered voice of Judy Garland from the film. The power of her voice was especially evident in her solo scenes, as she sent chills through the audience in such famous numbers as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”—her dulcet tones left audience members mesmerized. It was the chemistry among the quintessential quartet of Dorothy, the Lion (Mitchell Myers), the Scarecrow (Adam Uslan), and the Tin Man (Landon Fleishman), though, that really brought the show to life.

As the Lion, Mitchell Myers was, for lack of a better word, absolutely hilarious. His wonderful acting skills, coupled with a beautiful voice, brought the house down, allowing him to steal the show whenever he was onstage. The Scarecrow and Tin Man, played by Adam Uslan and Landon Fleishman, respectively, were exceptional as well, consistently exhibiting both strong voices and superb acting. The trio’s theme songs were also spectacular, leaving the audience smiling and tapping their feet all the way though intermission. Truly, the camaraderie among these three actors was a sight to behold, and brought the entire production to the next level.

Other standout performers included Corrieanne Stein, whose wonderful voice and talent for acting allowed her to play Glinda to a T, and Julia Wainger, whose shrill shrieks and cacophonous cackling made for an incredibly convincing Wicked Witch of the West. One character that stood out in particular was Ms. Gulch, played by Lauren Goldberger, whose fluid, realistic movements and poise brought her character to life. The ensemble work was also particularly strong, as the crows, trees, and Winkies provided much-appreciated comic relief and an excellent, supportive backdrop to the scenes.

Despite a few sound glitches, the tech crew was absolutely terrific. With quick scene changes, strong lighting effects, and an incredible, diverse set, the tech crew deserves a special round of applause. The flying effects, in particular, were impeccable—the incredible applause from the audience when Ms. Gulch first flew across the stage on her bicycle was a testament to that.

Trying to recreate a production that is as well-known and well-loved as “The Wizard of Oz” is an incredibly daunting task, but Wootton High School managed to meet the challenge, and do so with poise and creativity. Their production even improved upon the already-wonderful, reminding us once more that there is truly ‘no place like home’.

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