Special Effects, Choreography Highlight ‘Oz’
Published: Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 18:12
From books to film to onstage, L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” has delighted countless people the world over. Immortalized by the 1939 film starring Judy Garland, this story sprang up at The Stage at Island Park last week and runs through Dec. 21.
FMCT faced a challenge from the start in translating this movie to the stage. For starters, the numerous special effects of the film (the tornado sequence, melting the witch, Professor Marvel’s balloon, etc.) had to be alternatively recreated. To tackle this, FMCT relied heavily on pyrotechnics, lights and choreography.
Fire and smoke are found all over in the film, most notably in Oz’s chamber. Setting the Scarecrow on fire and melting the Witch rely on fire and smoke as well, and FMCT had a couple creative solutions for this. Using fireworks and fog machines worked well for a couple scenes; however, seeing a bit more of a blaze in Oz’s chamber would be nicer, visually.
Lights too come into play all throughout this show, particularly in the scenes staged in Oz. Blue, yellow and green lights set the stage nicely for the lands of the Munchkins, Winkies and Emerald City. This one-color focus dramatically changes each scene, all of which in Oz rely on the same superstructure as a set.
Emerald City in particular is cast in a wonderful light, as anyone who has seen the movie will remember that it is entirely green from top to bottom. With Munchkinland in blue and the Winkies’ world in yellow, the overall design of this show is lighted in a way that is complementary to each locale and pleasing to the eye.
Another aspect of this show (though not necessarily a special effect) that helps in mirroring the movie is its choreography. Dancing plays a role in not only the show’s musicality but also in scenes that rely on weather and wildlife. For example, the tornado and poppy field scenes are played out with young dancers as the tornado’s winds and the field’s flowers.
One of the best dance scenes in the whole show is by its youngest performers. The Munchkins’ welcoming songs feature about a dozen children under 10 who pull off their dancing and dialogue without a hitch. The Lullaby League and Lollipop Guild highlight these sequences.
Some of the finer parts of the cast are the Witch and the Scarecrow, two roles very well-suited for their actors. The Witch has her laugh down pat; however, her dialogue is delivered much more slowly than Margaret Hamilton in the film.
As for the Scarecrow, a lanky teenager who is light on his feet definitely fit the bill for this part. As an added casting bonus, FMCT was able to bring in a live dog to portray Toto with the help of artistic director Scott Brusven’s mixed-breed terrier.
Altogether, this “Wizard of Oz” is a respectable, remarkable recapturing of the original. Voices are rather average in this show, but the choreography seems to be where the real talent is at. Every actor, old and young, brings something to the table here, and seeing it all unfold is exciting and enjoyable.
“The Wizard of Oz” continues at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12-14, 19 & 20 and 2 p.m. Dec. 15 and 21 at The Stage at Island Park at 333 4th St. S. Advanced tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for students and seniors and $6 for children.