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BWW Review: THE WIZARD OF OZ at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse

Candlelight Dinner Playhouse presents The Wizard of Oz, initially an adaptation of the 1900 book, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," by L. Frank Baum. This Royal Shakespeare adaption is perhaps the most well-known due to how closely it mirrors the 1939 movie starring Judy Garland. For those who don't know, The Wizard of Oz, tells the story of Dorothy (Christy Obendorf) and her dog Toto who live an ordinary life on a farm in Kansas. They are magically swept up in a tornado, landing in a world full of color, magic and beings they have never encountered before. As Dorothy so aptly puts it, they are "not in Kansas anymore." To get back to her family, Dorothy must go on a journey to find the Wizard of Oz, and in the process she meets a Scarecrow (Deylan Dean), a Tinman (Stephen Bertles) and a Lion (Markus Warren), who help her to fight the forces of evil and together they come to realize that sometimes the things you wish hardest for have been with you all along.

Candlelight's production of The Wizard of Oz had moments as marvelous as Professor Marvel claims to be; however, as a whole the show felt like as big a fraud as he turned out to be with lots of smoke and mirrors. Kent Sugg's direction was inconsistent, with too many important moments taking place in the audience and completely lost by anyone not sitting in the first two rows. As far as the actors goes, I have always said that this show is very hard to perform, due to the fact that a lot of the audience comes in very familiar and with some expectation of what they want to see. Annie Dwyer as the Wicked Witch of the West was perfect, in a purely evil way. Christy Obendorf as Dorothy definitely looked the part, reminiscent of a young Judy Garland, but her acting was too modern and her voice was lacking, especially on the iconic song "Somewhere over the Rainbow." Deylan Dean as the Scarecrow was fun yet forgettable. Stephen Bertles as the Tinman, (also doubling as the choreographer) did what he does best with a wonderful tap number in "If I Only Had a Heart." Markus Warren successfully rounded out this odd quartet as the Cowardly Lion, shining in the Act II showstopper, "If I Were King of the Forrest."

In this production, a lot of the outstanding moments came from places you would not expect them. I have performed in and seen The Wizard of Oz countless times, but I have never seen a production in which Toto transforms from a real dog to a child in a dog costume. When Avery Mendoza entered into Oz as Toto I was incredibly skeptical, but within 20 minutes she outshone those dancing in front of her during "We're off to see the Wizard" and she continued to shine through the entirety of the show. Speaking of when Dorothy and Toto arrived in Oz, the first place they encounter is Munchkinland, which in this production was like being on a massive acid trip. And I mean that in the best way possible. The Munchkins were made up of the youth and adult ensembles on their knees with little Farquaad legs, (Shrek reference, anyone?) and choreographed brilliantly by Bertles. I will say that I have never laughed that hard at a theatrical production in my life. Another highlight of the show was Sarah Grover as the Wicked Witch of the West's right hand monkey, Nico. Grover made the most of this sometimes forgettable character, with a cross between Curious George and Saturday Night Fever.

The whimsical sets, designed by Ranae and DJ Selmeyer, really transported you to the world of Oz. As did Judith Ernst and Linda Morken's costume design. All in all, the show had great moments, but as a whole it fell short.

If you want to take a look see for yourself, Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's production of The Wizard of Oz runs now through September 11th. Tickets are available at or by calling 970-744-3747.

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From This Author Felicia Tassone

Felicia Tassone has a B.A. in Acting from University of Northern Colorado and graduated from the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts in NYC.  Felicia (read more...)

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