BWW Review: STARLIGHT THEATRE PRESENTS THE WIZARD OF OZ THROUGH JUNE 16
Toto you're not in Kansas anymore! You're at The Starlight Theatre in Kansas City for the opening night of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Based on the 1939 film classic, THE WIZARD OF OZ opened on Monday, June 10 and runs through Sunday, June 16. Philip Wm. McKinley directs his 13th production with Starlight Theatre, an accomplishment which was celebrated before the program began.'
THE WIZARD OF OZ is based on the 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum. Baum wrote the original musical adaptation in 1902 loosely based on his book. His version did not include Toto or a wicked witch. The 1939 film adaption more closely followed his original book. Baum's first musical opened in Chicago and moved to Broadway the next year. After closing on Broadway it toured for nine years.
The music and lyrics for THE WIZARD OF OZ are by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg. Background music is by Herbert Stothart. Sets and props for the Starlight production were provided by The Music and Theatre Company and flying effects provided by ZFX, Inc.
From the opening curtain, I wondered how the Wicked Witch, Miss Gulch, and the Flying Monkeys would take to the air. I was delighted as Miss Gulch riding her bicycle during the tornado was lifted off the stage and out of sight. And just as delighted later in the show as she came from the back of the audience to near the stage and back suspended above the seats. Dorothy is lifted off the ground and around the house as it is ripped from its foundation by the tornado. The use of the props was magnificent to watch.
Oh, what a voice does Julia Suriano who plays Dorothy have? As she opens the play with "Over the Rainbow" she should have been covered with bees as her voice was as sweet as honey. Suriano a resident of New York has appeared in WEST SIDE STORY at Fireside Theatre, SHOW BOAT at Interlakes Theatre, and MY FAIR LADY also at Interlakes Theatre among others.
Cathy Barnett gives a powerful performance as The Wicked Witch and Miss Gulch. She has appeared previously in FOOTLOOSE and THE SOUND OF MUSIC at Starlight Theatre. She has toured nationally and internationally in Forbidden Broadway and FORBIDDEN HOLLYWOOD.
Stephen Petrovich as Hunk and the Scarecrow, Richard Costa as Hickory and the Tinman, and Robert J. Hingula as Zeke and the Cowardly Lion give outstanding performances. Hingula is magnificent as he sings "If I Were King of the Forest". Adrienne Stiefel is outstanding in her performance of Aunt Em and Glinda the Good Witch.
THE WIZARD OF OZ is a wonderful family treat provided by Starlight Theatre and should not be missed. To purchase tickets online go to www.kcstarlight.com.
Photo credit Andrew Mather