Wizard of Oz on Walnut Street

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

The Royal Shakespeare production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is now at Philadelphia’s Walnut Street theatre until January 8, 2017. Adapted by John Kane, the plot closely follows that of the beloved book written by L. Frank Baum in 1900 and the classic Hollywood film of 1939 which starred Judy Garland, Margaret Hamilton, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, and Jack Haley.

In this production, Dorothy is played by Adrienne Eller, who delivers a sincere and believable performance as the lonely, anxious young girl who’s only real friend (she believes at the beginning of the musical) is her dog, Toto, here played to the hilt by Dusty (alternating with Nessa). Dusty elicited “AAhhs!” whenever there was a perky entrance by the pup. It is doubtful if Dorothy’s pet in the original story, a cow named Imogene, would have elicited such a doting display from the audience. Christopher Shin was an earnest Tin Man, who regaled us with his story. The Wicked Witch cursed him to chop off one of his limbs each time he wielded his axe, so he had a tinsmith (a remarkable man indeed) replace each limb in turn by one of tin, until finally he cleaved himself in half, resulting in him being totally reborn as a Tin Man. A rather gruesome story. Ellie Mooney was an appropriately histrionic and sadistic Wicked Witch of the West. Nichalas L. Parker, an imposing man, gamboled nimbly and sang resoundingly as the Cowardly Lion. Christopher Sutton was a clever and charming Scarecrow. Bill Van Horn was a stentorian Professor Marvel and The Wizard of Oz. His stage presence engaged the audience in both roles. Lyn Philistine deserves extra kudos for being a perfect Glinda while also having to float through the air.

The Munchkins were played by local children who are students of The Theatre School at Walnut Street Theatre. They were surprisingly good in their challenging roles. Jacob Wilner and Lyam David Kilker shone in the difficult role of the Munchkin Mayor.

The wonderful costumes in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz were by Mary Folino. The dancing crows were awesome. The dancing and singing poppies popped. The other members of the design and production teams were director Glenn Casale, choreographer Rodney Glen Roberts, and the wonderful live orchestra which added so much to the musical was conducted by John Daniels.

Dorothy returned to Kansas in a magnificent filmed effect which looked for all the world like a large-scale video of a colonoscopy viewed through a blue lens. Breathtaking!

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is now playing at the Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania until January 8. There are many matinee and special holiday performances for the whole family as well as the regular performances. For more information, call 215-574-3550 or visit www.walnutstreettheatre.org

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