BWW Reviews: Skylight's Enchanting WIZARD OF OZ Casts Magical Spell Over Milwaukee

BWW Reviews: Skylight's Enchanting WIZARD OF OZ Casts Magical Spell Over Milwaukee

Equally enchanting and entrancing in one evening, the Skylight Music Theatre sends Milwaukee audiences to the Emerald City to revisit The Wizard of Oz in grand theatrical style. Over the holiday season, Dorothy and her four friends, Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man and her beloved Toto, share a journey to where everyone wishes to return: a home overflowing with family and friends.

The Skylight's "Fairy Tales and Fantasy" theme continues when revisiting the 75 year old classic story written by Frank Baum, with music composed by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg that remains timelessly charming and compelling. Director Linda Brovsky closely paces the production alongside Musical Director Leslie B. Dunner, Scenic and Lighting Designer Peter Dean Beck, Choreographer Pam Kriger and Costume Designer Kristy Lelgh Hall--experienced technicians who interpret the story into a stunning version reminiscent of the iconic Warner Brothers film audiences still cherish, complete with live music orchestrated by ten musicians.

Susan Widemayer returns to the Skylight stage and appears as Dorothy, never too naive and yet effortlessly graceful, capturing her brains, courage and heart through a winsome persona that becomes more wordily after her Oz adventures. Andrew Varela presents a dashing and debonair lion alongside comrades Doug Clemons in the Tin Man's steel suit while Ryan Cappleman dons patches and straw in the role of Scarecrow. Two terriers, on opening night, Snowy, take the part of Toto, appearing on set for much of the performance. The rather marvelous team showcases Dorothy's journey through Oz while they wish to make their own particular pleas to the wonderful wizard.

Munchkinland begins the journey and mesmerizes the audience with Kriger's delightful choreography where full skirts twirl and circle round Dorothy with the ruby slippers visible beneath the titled farmhouse....Suddenly, the two witches appear and play with spectacular equality--a fierce and feisty Liz Norton embodies the Wicked Witch of the West. She casts a spell on this unlikely trio after Dorothy's farmhouse lands on her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, all ably described when the Munchkins sing the popular tune "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead." Susan Spencer captures the glamorous goodness of Glinda, the Witch of the North, when she arrives on stage in a spiral of light to the city of OZ and places the ruby slippers on Dorothy's feet. Each actor in character plays an exceptional complement to the other highlighting this battle between good and evil.

While presenting a perfectly family friendly production, Skylight's Wizard remembers to recreate the magic to Oz on the Cabot Theatre stage. While perhaps smaller in size than most, the Wizard of Oz himself looms larger than life behind a curtain for the audiences. Adults and children over the age of five will relish this journey revealing that within oneself lies the the resources to overcome life's misadventures and misfortunes on the road to a greater understanding in a variety of situations with the help of another person. Persons who may exhibit their own foibles the can be transformed into feats of courage and heart.

As a person who revels in wearing ruby slippers any time of the year in an effort to recall her own brains, courage and heart and often tries to click three times to discover home, Dorothy's magical powers need to believed and seen. Take this enchanting opportunity to make this marvelous journey back to childhood. Cast a personal holiday spell with family or friends and return to Skylight's magical The Wizard of Oz. Relive the happiness found and renewed at any age--surely a place where "troubles melt like lemon drops...somewhere over the rainbow."

Skylight Music Theatre presents The Wizard of Oz in the Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center through January 4. Special programs and performances will be available, and for further information or tickets, please call 414.291.7800 or skylightmusictheatre.org.

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From This Author Peggy Sue Dunigan

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