My kids and I attended an opening weekend performance of The Wizard of Oz at the Children’s Theatre Company and were greatly impressed with the performances, the sets, the special effects and the natural flow of the whole production.
With all the scene changes and effects we all know from the movie, the Children’s Theatre Company masterfully moved the story along to keep both young kids and adults engaged.
Traci Allen Shannon played Dorothy, and did such an amazing job. Her singing was captivating, and her acting was so moving that I actually held back tears at her heartbreaking reaction to when Toto was taken away from her by Miss Gulch. I hope to see Traci in many more Children’s Theatre Productions.
One of my favorite Children’s Theatre Company actors is the talented Dean Holt, and unsurprisingly, he played the spunky Hunk/Scarecrow. Dean’s natural knack for convincingly playing any fun, quirky role and making audiences laugh shined in his performance, though both Bradley Greenwald (Hickory/Tin Man) and Reed Sigmund (Zeke/Cowardly Lion) were great matches for their talent and engagement with the audience. Reed, in his role as the Cowardly Lion, reminded me of a cross between Curly from the Three Stooges and Jack Black. He was very entertaining and added his own fun personal touches to his character.
The beginning sequence of dull, black and white colors transformed beautifully into the bright, colorful land of Oz. I loved the sequence of the tornado – which used a big screen with computer animated effects to make you feel like you were in the tornado yourself. And when the munchkins came out, played by both adults and children, the stage lit up in cheery colors and energy. The scenes with the whole company on stage were favorite parts of the whole performance.
I think the coolest thing about this production was the dog playing Toto. Yes, there was a real dog! And Toto was in almost every scene throughout the performance, from the very first scene to the end. This was one very well trained dog who came out on stage at all the right times and sat calmly in the actors’ arms. My kids were very impressed with Toto. (Actually, though, Toto was played by 2 dogs with some theatre experience.)
If you’re wondering about the fright factor for kids, the scenes with the witch and the scary monkeys were pretty tame compared to the movie. The scenes were effective, and the witch, played by Children’s Theatre Company newbie Mary Fox, was as scary as a witch in a children’s production should be. She wasn’t as scary as the witch in The Wizard of Oz, but she did a good job in her first CTC role.
The Wizard of Oz is a 2-hour performance with a 15-minute intermission, and runs now through January 10th, 2016. It was extended a week due to popular demand and I believe they’ll sell out so if you want to go, I recommend getting your tickets ASAP.
Despite the length, my kids sat well through the whole performance. Though it’s recommended for all ages, I think some younger kids (under age 4) may have a hard time sitting still the whole time, especially through the second half. The nice thing about Children’s Theatre Company though is that no one expects quiet in the audience at all times! And if you have restless young ones, they have a designated “quiet room” and a “take a break space.”
Learn more on the Children’s Theatre Company website. Learn more also about discounts they offer, including their $10 ticket program.
(Disclosure: We received complimentary tickets to this show in exchange for our honest review. As always, all opinions are 100% mine!)