Review: THE WIZARD OF OZ at Keystone Theatrics At Allenberry Playhouse

A standout production that brings Technicolor on stage

By: Aug. 08, 2022
Review: THE WIZARD OF OZ at Keystone Theatrics At Allenberry Playhouse
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When Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg put THE WIZARD OF OZ together, they knew they had a good thing. So did the studio. And audiences knew it, too. There's still a crowd that will show for any public performance of the movie, especially if it's a sing-along. It's this popularity that turned the movie into a stage musical, to keep the magic going.

Unfortunately, even in the lively Royal Shakespeare Company adaptation of the film, the show's lost a little luster. The lion's coat is worn, the Scarecrow is losing stuffing, and the Emerald City has lost its gleam from overuse. Thank goodness for director Jeremy Slagle, who had a vivid - no, make that Technicolor - imagination. His production moves from a black and white Kansas, just as in the film, into bright, glorious, and infectious color. Dorothy's rainbow shines in almost every set without the easy and overdone use of projections as backdrops and set devices. The sets are colorful, the costumes are colorful, and the characters are a bit more colorful than usual - especially the delightful veteran Marisa Hoover as the Wicked Witch, armed with a broom, some updated snark, and black leather - this is not your mother's Wicked Witch.

Ava Giorgione is an inspired Dorothy, naive but nobody's fool. Dorothy's Oz, whether real or in her dreams, is a place she navigates with plenty of intelligence. Her helpers are equally adept - Josh Miccio's Scarecrow, who has far better straw brains than he thinks, Ozzy Smith's Tin Man, a true charmer, and Samuel Eisenhuth's Cowardly Lion. Eisenhuth is already a fine comic performer, but his Lion is such a delightful homage to Bert Lahr's epitomal King of the Forest that he nearly walks off with the show. (He's neck and neck with Hoover's truly entertaining Wicked Witch.)

Now, more to the point for all animal lovers, local stage veteran Cosmo plays Toto for his second time, and who can blame Dorothy for hiding this charmer from the vile Elvira Gulch? Cosmo is a born Toto, a stage dog of great talent. May he live to delight us with more of his star turns as Toto and Sandy.

This production brings the joy back to the story of Oz, and will brighten your day long after the bright lights and color on stage are gone. It's been a long time since I've sat through a production of this show with rapt anticipation for what might happen next, but I was spellbound by this one.

At Keystone Theatrics at Allenberry through August 7, and worth every minute of it.


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