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BWW Reviews: Inspire Creative's WIZARD OF OZ a Familiar Trip Down the Yellow Brick Road

The Wizard of Oz is musical comfort food: you go into it knowing what to expect. You're familiar with the characters, the songs, the beats. The brain, the heart, and "da noive." Lions and tigers and bears and your little dog too.

So if Inspire Creative's production at the PACE Center doesn't bring anything new or different to the table, does it really matter? It certainly didn't to the throngs of children at Saturday's matinee performance, dressed up for an afternoon of theatre in their best slacks and princess dresses and hanging on every word.

The script is from the 1987 Royal Shakespeare Company adaptation, which sticks close to the eternally beloved 1939 Judy Garland film with a few winking comments thrown in. ("Who else would wear the ruby slippers with those socks?" the Wicked Witch snarks on seeing her sister's legs poking out from beneath Dorothy's farmhouse.) Director Gary Lewis and production manager Shaun Albrechtson keep things mostly simple, with a series of bright storybook backdrops representing Oz and basic effects for the various magic tricks (real and humbug) throughout, wisely keeping the focus on the cast. Ellie Ferguson is a sweet Dorothy who never feels petulant or bratty-you can really feel her heart breaking when mean Miss Gulch comes to take Toto away. Of her trio of traveling companions, Brandon Bill is by far the standout as the simpering, quivering Cowardly Lion, getting the audience roaring with laughter and displaying an impressive cadenza on "If I Were King." The second biggest font of comedy is Taylor Speer as the Emerald City's gate guard and all-around tour guide. As the Wicked Witch, Christine Wanzeck goes gleefully over the top as she cackles and snarls at the heroes.

My five-year-old son said he liked most of the show, but found the parts with the Witch to be rather scary. He also grew noticeably restless by the time Dorothy was getting ready to click her heels and head home, but holding his attention for the majority of the running time is, I assure you, no small feat.

The Inspire Creative Wizard is like an old sweater: it's not particularly flashy or fancy, but it is warm, familiar, and cozy as an evening with a good friend. So bring your kids and cuddle up together for a trip down the Yellow Brick Road.

THE WIZARD OF OZ plays now through February 8th at the PACE Center, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. For tickets, contact the box office at 303-805-6800 or visit parkerarts.org.


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From This Author Christi Esterle

Christi Esterle is a Colorado native, geek, and a theater fan ever since she saw her older cousin performing in a high school production of (read more...)