Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Also see Rebecca's review of On the Exhale
The stage adaptation by John Kane draws heavily on both the L. Frank Baum novel and the iconic MGM film. Young Dorothy and her faithful dog Toto live on a farm with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. When Dorothy is harangued by her canine-hating neighbor and ignored by the adults in her life, she decides to run away. Thanks to an unexpected cyclone Dorothy goes a bit farther than she expected and ends up in the magical land of Oz. To get back home she must follow the yellow brick road, enlist the help of some new friends, and find the Wizard.
Leigha Kato brings a sweet voice and youthful bravado to the role of Dorothy. Doug Hara is charming as the Tin Man and Andrew Betz makes a delightfully goofy Scarecrow. Jered McLenigan is risible as the Cowardly Lion, landing jokes that made the entire audience roar at the performance I attended, and sending others deftly over the heads of the younger set. Other standouts include John Basiulis (Uncle Henry has never been so hilariously mordant), Leah Gabriel (channeling a 1970s rock star vibe as Glinda), Michael Liebhauser (ridiculously funny as several munchkins, the guard, and a very energetic monkey), and Susannah Hughes as Dorothy's little dog Toto.
Adrienne Maitland's playful and snappy choreography is loads of fun. Maitland pays homage to all of the classic movie moments while making excellent use of the three-sided stage. The rest of the blocking is less successful because the cast spends far too much time with their backs to the audience. Kelly Myers' inventive costume designs are tremendous. Creative set and lighting designs by Brian Sidney Bembridge create the perfect atmosphere for this deliciously quirky production.
Truly a treat for dreamers of all ages, this journey to Oz is the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
The Wizard of Oz runs through December 29, 2019, at Quintessence Theatre Group, Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Ave., Mt. Airy, Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information, visit www.QTGrep.org or call 215-987-4450.