THE WIZARD OF OZ
Reviewed by Tony Annicone
We’re off to see the wizard for Hendricken’s autumn musical. This classic tale of Dorothy and Toto’s adventures in Oz has melted hearts for more than seven decades with its unforgettable melodies and timeless themes of family, home and the courage to pursue dreams. Adapted from L. Frank Baum’s enduring children’s story, “The Wizard of Oz” follows a Kansas girl’s journey over the rainbow where she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion and other magical creatures. So audience members click your heels three times and join the travels through the magical land of Oz to meet the Wizard to obtain your hearts desires. Director Richie Sylvia picks talented 60 student performers to play these well known roles while as the music director he taught the well known score to them. Sean Donnelly conducts a fabulous 15 piece orchestra. Teresa Pearson choreographs some energetic dances to entertain the audience all night long especially in “The Jitterbug” number that stops the show as does the tap dancing and many others in “Merrie Ole Oz” performed energetically and splendidly.
Leading the cast as Dorothy is Emily Fielding whose voice is beautiful and soars in all her numbers. She is not only cute as a button but is a triple threat performer, too. Madeline plays the comic aspects of the role wonderfully but also makes you feel empathy for Dorothy when the horrible Miss Gulch wants to put Toto to death for biting her at the start of the show. She also is powerful when she stands up to the Witch and the Wizard, too. However her most poignant moment occurs when she says goodbye to her three best friends in Oz, leaving you with tears in your eyes. This is the very heart of the play where she realizes everything she ever loved was right back at home in Kansas. Her rendition of “Over the Rainbow” is stunning as are her other numbers, too.
Dorothy’s three friends are played excellently by three talented performers. They capture every single comic moment with their clever repartee. Sean Ryan as the Scarecrow is limber and lanky as he falls down and jumps back up with ease. His rubbery legs are very funny, too. Ryan’s voice soars in “If I Only Had a Brain” backed up by the six crows. They do a marvelous song and dance to it. Nicholas Bullock plays the kind hearted Tin Man and moves with ease while dressed as the Tin Man. The Apple Trees do a dance with the Tin Man which is astounding to behold. Nicholas also handles the pathos of the character when he realizes his heart has always been there in his poignant scenes with Dorothy. His dance with the Apple Trees is a show stopping moment which displays his dancing prowess. Carlin Fournier plays the Cowardly Lion who lacks courage. The boundless energy and acting prowess come through with his portrayal and his song “If I Only Had the Nerve.” He really shines in “King of the Forest” song with his facial expressions and delivery. Another stunning dance is “Merry Ole Oz” where they dance up a storm.
Madeline Morin is terrific as the Witch who scares the crap out of the audience while leaving them laughing at her naughty antics. She is a whirling dervish in this role, appearing and disappearing in a flash of an eye. Her evil taunts at Dorothy are priceless. She is also splendid as the evil harridan, Miss Gulch who threatens to kill the beloved dog, Toto. Another comic character in the show is Brendan Lawrence as the Wizard. He brings this curmudgeonly character to life. He also plays Professor Marvel who talks to Dorothy before she takes off for Oz and discovers her after the tornado. Kate Fitzgerald as the good witch, Glinda, displays her voice in “Come Out”, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” and “You’re Out of the Woods.” The munchkins steal many a scene with their wild and wacky antics. Victoria LeBlanc plays the sympathetic Auntie Em while Dominic DaSilva plays Uncle Henry who hurls hilarious insults and one liners at Miss Gulch. He also plays the Guard and sings the lead in “Merrie Ole Oz” doing a terrific job in both roles.So for a splendid musical treat that family audiences can thoroughly enjoy, be sure to catch “The Wizard of Oz” at Hendricken Theatre before Dorothy returns to Kansas for good. Tell them Tony sent you. The expertise of the cast and crew bring the appreciative crowd to their feet at the end of the show.
THE WIZARD OF OZ ( 30 November to 3 December)
Bishop Hendricken Theatre, 2615 Warwick Ave, Warwick, RI
1(401)739-3450 or www.hendrickentheatre.com/ARTS