Shawn Stalter, Chief Dallas/Ft. Worth Critic
Casa Manana’s production of, “The Wizard of Oz,” delivered all the wonder, magic and energy which has made this story a celebrated part of the American stage and screen tradition for multiple generations. Together, the show’s dynamic cast and crew took the audience on a remarkably-authentic journey down Oz’s yellow brick road while incorporating just the right mix of modern creative elements to make it truly shine.
Written by author L. Frank Baum in 1900, and later adapted for the big screen in 1939, “The Wizard of Oz” transports the audience to the faraway land of Oz. There, a young girl, “Dorothy,” and her canine companion, “Toto,” arrive unexpectedly after being swept away from their Kansas home by a massive tornado. After arriving in Oz, “Dorothy” receives assistance from “Glinda the Good Witch,” and sets off on an adventure to seek help from the all-powerful “Wizard of Oz.” With his help, she hopes to find her way home. While dancing her way down the yellow brick road, “Dorothy” befriends a “Scarecrow,” a “Tin Man” and a “Cowardly Lion,” but comes face-to-face with the devious villain, “the Wicked Witch.”
Led by the superbly-talented Molly Franco in the starring role of the loveable and innocent “Dorothy Gale,” Casa Manana’s production of this iconic classic soars. Her exhilarating vocal skills filled the expansive theater with honey-sweet sincerity. Other standout performances from this robust show include James Chandler’s endearing take on “The Cowardly Lion,” Kyle Igneczi’s physically-dynamic “Scarecrow,” and Sarah Gay as a scathingly sarcastic “Wicked Witch.” Each brought unique, and highly-entertaining, interpretations of their characters to life while remaining true to the celebrated classic performances.
The well-rounded cast’s delivery of time-honored songs from “The Wizard of Oz,” including Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead, Follow the Yellow Brick Road, If I Only Had a Brain and more, were all spot-on. However, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, with its island-style inspiration reminiscent of the late Hawaiian sensation, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s interpretation, was a true highlight of the show.
Beyond the myriad of talented vocals and dynamic choreography though, the costuming, hair and makeup for Casa’s “The Wizard of Oz” was also top-tier. The wildly creative use of adult performers as “Munchkins” and the unique approach to “Scarecrow’s” costuming were both extremely well-executed.
Overall, Casa Manana’s “The Wizard of Oz” supplies a powerful, dynamic and heart-warming performance sure to leave a smile on the faces of fans of all ages.
Casa Manana Theatre’s production of “The Wizard of Oz,” directed by Joe Sturgeon, runs through May 12th, 2019 and stars Molly Franco as “Dorothy.” Additional cast members include Kyle Igneczi as the “Scarecrow,” James Chandler as the “Cowardly Lion,” Aaron Jay Green as the “Tinman,” Sarah Gay as the “Wicked Witch,” Alexandra Cassens as “Glinda” and Curt Denham as the “Wizard.” This production also features choreography courtesy of Merrill West, musical direction from Vonda K. Bowling, lighting by David Neville, scene design from Kimberly Powers, sound design by Eric Norris, projection design from Brad Peterson, costuming courtesy of Tammy Spencer and hair and makeup from Catherine Petty-Rogers.
Reserve your seat for an upcoming performance or learn more about future productions by visiting www.casamanana.org or by calling 800-982-2787.
Photo credit: Chip Tompkins