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Please Off the Wizard

May 3, 2010

Two caveats before I begin the review of West Orange High School’s Wizard of Oz:

1) I know no one from WOH will read this, so I can be brutal with impunity (and if neither of my readers tell them, no worries).

2) I am NOT being hyper critical or judging the STUDENTS on a professional level.

Now to begin:

BOY was that a waste of 50 bucks.  It would have been a waste of 5 bucks.  I admit to high expectations.  This is an award-winning school with a renown director; I’ve only heard raves about his plays.

Well, let me tell you, the Emperor is naked as a jaybird.  While some of the actors had real talent, they were so poorly directed it didn’t much matter.  The directoral choices were horrible.

The Wizard of Oz is a spectacle heavy show and if you don’t have the budget or the time or the creativity to do it properly, you shouldn’t do it.  The lights were bad.  The sound was worse.  Too many of the choices were ripped off from the movie, which might work on screen but don’t on stage (different mediums, different choices).  Aunt Em never uttered a single intelligible word.  Uncle Henry was menacing and dangerous.  The beats were horribly blurred and when Dorothy decided to run off, she made a good decision.  I would have, too.

Dorothy was a standout with a wonderful voice.  Tin Man and Scarecrow were pretty good.  The Wicked Witch of the West was mucho talented but no one reigned her in.  The Lion (my favorite character of the story) was bad.  It worked for him, sort of, in the first scene, and then it didn’t.  The kids playing the Munchkins, poppies, flying monkeys, and Emerald City citizens were great; the twister, crows, and jitterbugs were among the best parts.

Too often we were left to imagine or pretend effects were included.  The phony wizard was not scary and didn’t even make sense.

Altogether, there were a few good moments, but the staging was muddy and inarticulate.  The kids deserved better.  So did the audience.  I won’t be wasting time or money on any more West Orange High School plays.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. tracy permalink
    May 5, 2010 7:55 pm

    We went to and Inglemoor play earlier this year and loved it! I was so impressed. I can’t remember having such high quality shows in high school. And the new theatre at Bothell is really nice.

  2. May 6, 2010 2:26 pm

    Who’s directing at Inglemoor now? Lori Divine isn’t still there, is she?

  3. dawn permalink
    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm

    Did you see their production of Beauty and the Beast last year? I would have loved hearing your thoughts on it.

    What I remember, a year later, as the thing that stood out the most was the woeful miscasting of the Beast. He could act, and sing, but he was the shortest and slightest actor on the stage, and nothing was done via makeup/costume/body language to overcome it. Belle was easily just as tall as he was, which pretty much negated any sense of danger or menace in his character and their scenes together. It made no sense…until reading the program revealed he was the son of the director, and not even a student at the school, as he had graduated the year before and was returning as a “guest alumnus”. Um, preferential treatment much? Must stink to be in the drama program at a school when the drama teacher prefers pimping his own, ineligible kids instead of using the talent at hand.

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