Wednesday, November 25, 2015

theatre review - THE WIZARD OF OZ - Phoenix Theatre - November 20, 2015

Ryan Kleinman, Carly Nicole Grossman, Toby Yatso and Robert Kolby Harper surrounded by the Cast
Photo by Erin Evangeline Photography
Click here for more information on this production that runs through December 27th.

"The enduring popularity of The Wizard of Oz is apparent from the fact that there have been a half dozen different stage productions of this family-friendly classic musical in the Phoenix area just in the past six months. However, the best production of the group is the latest, an eye-popping, colorful, and magnificent production from Phoenix Theatre that features a lovely performance by young, local actress Carly Nicole Grossman as Dorothy....Director Michael Barnard has assembled a very good cast composed of many Phoenix Theatre favorites who are all gifted in paying homage to these familiar characters from the film, yet at the same time adding nuances and layers so they aren't just carbon copy reproductions. As Dorothy, 18-year-old Carley Nicole Grossman exhibits a wide range of emotions. Her smart acting choices provide an emotional connection for the slightly self-centered and misunderstood yet endearing young girl. Grossman's powerful, clear voice excels on her many songs, including a sensational version of "Over the Rainbow."...As the three men Dorothy meets on her journey, Robert Kolby Harper is hilarious as the Cowardly Lion, playing up the "dandy" part very well; Toby Yatso is endearing and sweet as Scarecrow, with confused looks and statements that are just right for a man with no brain; and Ryan Kleinman uses a soft spoken nature and strong, clear singing voice to instill the Tin Man with plenty of heart. ...Michael Barnard's direction adds plenty of original touches but allows fans of the film to experience the familiar, well-loved moments from the movie as well...Choreographer Nathaniel Shaw provides some fun staging but it is the non-stop frenzy of "The Jitterbug" that shows off how skilled he is, elevating this number into a huge crowd pleaser. Only the tornado sequence, with the ensemble members dancing and jumping around with long pieces of cloth to signify the raging storm, is a bit of a disappointment. Creative elements are, as usual at Phoenix Theatre, exceptional. ...Whether you've seen the film one time or a hundred times, the story of Dorothy and her journey to Oz is still thrilling, touching and extremely heartwarming. With a very talented cast, impressive creative elements, and exceptional choreography and direction, Phoenix Theatre's production of The Wizard of Oz is just about perfect. Fans of the film should enjoy the creative touches that bring the story to life on stage while also appreciating the added elements that allow it to not just be a carbon copy creation of the film."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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