Pictured: John D’Angelo (Catherine Ariale)

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

Emma Paquette, a student at McLean High School reviews ”Wizard of Oz”, performed by West Springfield High School , as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program .

Dorothy Gale will need ingenuity, compassion, and bravery if she ever wants to see her beloved Kansas again. But this might be more difficult than it seems considering her only allies are a hapless sentinel perpetually at war with aviary foes, a metallic automaton divided from his love and limbs, and a royal feline paralyzed by senseless terror; each one either brainless, heartless, or nerveless. This isn’t going to be an easy journey.  West Springfield High School chronicled this illustrious adventure in their delightful production of The Wizard of Oz.

 The Wizard of Oz, originally a novel by L. Frank Baum, has spawned numerous adaptations throughout the years, including stage plays and musicals, television series, books, and the classic 1939 film starring Judy Garland. One of the most popular is the 1987 musical adaptation by John Kane, originally performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The show follows Dorothy Gale’s assorted adventures in the Land of Oz as she tries to make her way home to Kansas.

The expansive ensemble of this show was brimming with boundless ardor and threw themselves into each song with explosive gusto. The group’s staggering exuberance and the imaginative choreography of Riley O’Rourke and Elizabeth Garcia were perfectly synthesized in such numbers as the breathtaking “Jitterbug”. O’Rourke led this piece herself with impressive skill, undertaking each daunting move with remarkable grace. 

Elizabeth Garcia headed this exciting troupe, portraying the young Dorothy with astounding zeal and extraordinary enthusiasm. Garcia’s commitment to the virtuous naiveté of her character was brilliantly illustrated in her desperate clutching of Toto and appropriately childish tone. In addition, her laudable vocals complimented the other singers wonderfully.  Her adversary, the Wicked Witch (Brittany Morgan) was also a driving force in the play. Morgan balanced terrifying malevolence with riotous exasperation to create a fantastically charismatic antagonist.

Dorothy’s three loyal friends were no less striking than their Kansas sweetheart. The Scarecrow’s (Rick Leith) loose gait and mirthful expressions perfectly captured the lovable straw figure’s charming disposition. Leith also delivered gorgeous melodies with astonishing ease in a resounding, smooth baritone. The Lion (Drew Holcombe) was a master of comedy, his trembling voice and shaky demeanor garnering much uproarious laughter. The Tin Man (John D’Angelo) displayed expert physicality, moving stiffly and freezing on the spot whenever he rusted. The three exhibited an authentic chemistry with each other as well as with Garcia, and their genuine group dynamic brought believability to their friendship.

Tech was strong overall, full of thoughtful choices that helped to create the diverse locales of the mystical Land of Oz. The sheer amount of set pieces was awe-inspiring and the stage crew tackled the demanding job of moving them with practiced silence and speed. The vast array of props was managed well by the actors, including everything from a crystal ball to an axe to a live dog. Flying was also executed skillfully, particularly the monkeys, who, with the aid of harnesses, soared through the air as though they truly had wings.

It wasn’t the Wizard who transformed Dorothy from a lonely little girl into a confident and considerate heroine, or even magic of any kind. It was the unlikely friendships that she made during her stay in Oz, which neither time nor distance will ever erase. With such strong bonds at their show’s core, West Springfield High School enchanted the audience with their lovely performance of The Wizard of Oz.