BWW Review: THE WIZARD OF OZ at Walnut Street Theatre
Just three clicks of the heel away on Walnut Street, America's oldest theater takes its audience on a familiar journey through the all- time beloved story of Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and all your favorite characters in L. Frank Baum's classic story" The Wizard of Oz".
Director Glenn Casale brings this classic story to life on stage in grand style. He shares with me, "Everyone knows exactly what to expect from the story and these characters. I asked the cast to make each role their own". Casale captures this concept so well as he brings to life each familiar old friend and iconic moment with a few new surprises.
The twister twists, The witches fly, the Munchkins sing and dance and Emerald City is 'just as beautiful as you expected'. The success of Walnut's Wizard is a combination of a stellar company and principle cast as well as incredible scenic designs by Stephen Gifford who creates a terrific twister as well as a fabulous fairy-tale settings to fill the stage with color and excitement. Costume designer Mary Folino fashions a wardrobe to challenge Broadway's WICKED and choreographer Rodney Glen Roberts keeps the action tight and entertaining.
Leading us down the yellow brick road is newcomer to the Walnut Adrienne Eller as Dorothy who is refreshingly so much like the the most famous Dorothy we've all come to love while adding her own adorable style to the role. Her "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is enchanting, innocent and lovely! She is joined by the talented Christopher Sutton as the clumsy cute Scarecrow and the multi talented Christopher Shin as the rusted Tin Man who turns in an impressive tap dance ditty to rouse the already excited crowd. The Cowardly Lion is played larger than life by a robust Nichalas L. Parker bringing an equal amount of updated humor along the way. Parker's "King of the Forrest" brings the crowd to a roar of its own. Walnut favorite Bill Van Horn is outstanding as Prof. Marvel and The Wizard. The witches are wonderful! Lyn Philistine's Glinda is perfect and Ellie Mooney's Wicked Witch of the West is wickedly funny.
Stealing the show as no surprise are the Munchkins. A double cast of local talented children, 30 in all share as much talent and cuteness as one can handle. They are almost single- handedly (or paws, in this case) outdone by the amazing Toto played by Dusty who despite twisters, witches, dancing, flying humans and creatures never misses a cue! "I'd Turn back to the Walnut if I Were You" and don't miss this exceptionally wonderful production.
The Wizard of Oz plays at the Walnut Theatre through January 8th. For tickets and more information visit www.walnutstreettheatre.org or call 215.574.3550
Photos: Mark Garvin