Last weekend, ProArts took audiences on a magical, musical adventure with its adaptation of L. Frank Baum's beloved book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."
Director Jonathan Lehman designed the show to engage a young audience, encouraging the kids to get actively involved in the story. Throughout the show, the characters asked the kids questions, called on them for help and advice, and at one point even invited them to stand up and become part of a scene.
The cast was as talented and professional as audiences have come to expect from a ProArts production. Tyler Charbonneau, a sophomore at Seabury Hall, played a spunky Dorothy Gale. Despite her youthful energy, which made her perfect in the role of a homesick young girl, she had a powerful voice and a surprisingly grown-up presence onstage.
Laurel Sherwood is Glinda the Good Witch in ProArts’ “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
ProArts Inc. photo
Kalani Whitford was perfectly heinous as the Wicked Witch of the West. She channeled the original Wicked Witch Margaret Hamilton from the MGM film, but at moments managed to seem even more malevolent than her muse.
Dale Button added a dose of slapstick humor as the floppy and loveable Scarecrow. His lively songs were as fun to watch as they were to listen to. Joseph Duncan played the creaky Tin Man, and Bill Schnitzer played a Bert Lahr-esque Cowardly Lion.
Laurel Sherwood was charming as the Good Witch Glinda, who rallied the people of Oz (and the children in the audience) to help Dorothy defeat the Wicked Witch and return home to Kansas.
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" opened last Friday and plays again this weekend and the next: 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 4 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 and 4 p.m. Sundays at the ProArts Playhouse at the Azeka Mall in Kihei. Tickets are $15 for reserved seating and $10 for floor seating. Call 463-6520 for tickets or information.
Laura Bloom Farber was a particularly warm and caring Aunt Em, who made Dorothy's desperation to get home all the more believable.
James Natividad, Jett Batoon, Isaac Rauch and Lana Canton played the jolly Munchins and the leering monkey henchmen of the Wicked Witch.
The show was visually interesting, with some well-designed special effects. The cyclone scene was almost too effective - a strobe light, loud music and swirling clouds of black fabric made the storm's violence so palpable that it scared some of the younger audience members. Likewise, the Wicked Witch's monkey henchmen were appropriately freaky, with matted black fur and flashing eyes - but perhaps a little too freaky for some.
Much more light-hearted were the musical numbers, written by Hannah Carroll, Robert Flossie and Charlie Smalls. The performers did justice to these fun and simple tunes. The solos were excellent, but I particularly enjoyed the full company numbers, which were remarkably strong considering the small cast size.
The production team comprised director and producer Jonathan Lehman, producer Doug Kendrick, musical director Marti Kluth, scenic designer Caro Walker, costume designer Kathleen Schulz and lighting designer Bonnie Prucha.
Bring your kids and join Dorothy and her friends on a colorful, music-filled journey through the land of Oz.
* Contact Mirabel Bradley at firstname.lastname@example.org