Sunday April 23rd 2017

“The Wizard of Oz”

The beauty of children’s theater or what is often termed “Theater for young adults” is that by offering these marvelous little shows, our youngsters ( children-grandchildren) are being exposed to “live” theater and that makes me happy! In some cases, because they need a parent or grandparent to take them, the adult is also exposed to theater and once they see the reaction and live the experience, perhaps they will explore other venues and plays as well. There is nothing like this experience. Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire is one of our numerous venues for bringing “live theater” to our youngsters and they are to be applauded for not just their choice of shows, but for the solid work they place before these audiences and the wonderful questions and answers with the cast after the production. The only ingredients that I would like to see them add ( to make the experience unforgettable) would be a program and an opportunity to get autographs from the cast members ( in costume) after the show.

The current production to grace the theater in the round at Marriott is “The Wizard of Oz”, based on the writing of L. Frank Baum with some wonderful songs that most of the audience members knew from the classic movie and other stage productions. Songs like “Over The Rainbow”,”Ding Dong The Witch is Dead” and “We’re Off To See The Wizard”, will have your little ones clapping the beat with the marvelous cast, although small in size, very large in talent.

I think everyone knows the story, but just to make sure; We start off in Kansas, on a farm. Dorothy, who lives with her aunt and uncle is kind of a loner ( with her dog) and feels in the way. She gets caught in a Tornado ( or does she? and eds up in the land of Oz where the house has landed on a witch. She finds out that there are bad withches, but also good witches. To go back home, she must appear before the Wizard and along the way to seek his aid, she runs into three characters, a scarecrow with no brain, a tin woodsmand with no hear and a powerful lion with no courage. They become her firends and go wth her to meet the Wizard in order to get what they are misisng. Building a strong relationship, these four who were only self-caring become dependent on each other and friends, working together to acheive their goals. In the end, they do get what they want and Dorothy returns home to Kansas with the new notion, “there is no place like home”,

George Keating as the Scarecrow shows his flexibility, Michael Lindner as the Cowardly Lion will win your heart and Andrew Lupp as The Tin Man will leave you frozen in your tracks with the great tap dance number director/choreographer  Rachel Rockwell creates. Rockwell, with her understanding of how to keep the kids “into” the show just hones her craft better and better. I think, in her heart, she is still a kid herself!

I think everyone knows the story, but just to make sure; We start off in Kansas, on a farm. Dorothy, who lives with her aunt and uncle is kind of a loner ( with her dog) and feels in the way. She gets caught in a Tornado ( or does she? and eds up in the land of Oz where the house has landed on a witch. She finds out that there are bad withches, but also good witches. To go back home, she must appear before the Wizard and along the way to seek his aid, she runs into three characters, a scarecrow with no brain, a tin woodsmand with no hear and a powerful lion with no courage. They become her firends and go wth her to meet the Wizard in order to get what they are misisng. Building a strong relationship, these four who were only self-caring become dependent on each other and friends, working together to acheive their goals. In the end, they do get what they want and Dorothy returns home to Kansas with the new notion, “there is no place like home”,

If these three characters and the talented men who bring them to life were’nt  enough, there is of course the lovely Dara Cameron as Dorothy, Mary Ernster as Aunt Em and Glinda ( always a delight to watch her bring these roles to life), Heidi Kettenring as the Wicked Witch ( she is heavenly even in an evil role), the always reliable Mark Kaplan as The Wizard and uncle Henry and an ensemble of three ( yes, that is correct, 3!) very talented performers who sing, dance and act like a cast of many more; Debbie Laumond-Blanc, Peyton Roya and Amber Mak , who truly do it all. A newcomer to the stage is “Harvey” as Toto. While Harvey is a different breed of dog than what we are used to , as well as slightly better sized, his acting ability far outweighs this and he truly pulls it off.

Marriott Theatre, using a stage that is set up for the main production ( “Music Man”) makes this production a fun-filled morning for audience members no matter the age. Two of my grand-kids came with me and I will have a follow-up from Adam ( almost 6), but his little sister Sarah, only three and this only her second  theatrical production clapped along with all the songs and had a great time. Unlike her first experience, she had no fear problems with even the tornado that takes Dorothy from Kansas to Oz or the witch. In fact, at dinner that evening, she and her brother kind of poked fun at their parents by sliding off their chairs ( when being splashed with some water”) and as the slid down exclaimed “I’m Melting! They went away witha warm and fuzzy feeling and are looking forward to the next production,”How Can You Run With A Shell On Your Back” opening in March of 2011 ( to be honest, seeing that one before I am anxious to see how Marriott handles this clever little musical).

Meanwhile, you can catch “The Wizard of  Oz”  through December 30th with performances as follows:

Monday- Friday ( except 12/24 and 25  HAPPY HOLIDAYS) at 10 a.m. and no show on 12/15  and at 12:30 p.m. ( except the following dates 12/22, 12/29 and 12/30- just the 10 a.m. shows); Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m.

Tickets are a mere $15 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 847-634-0200 or online at www.MarriottTheatre.com

There are no bad seats in this theater and plenty of free parking. During the school year, many local groups and schools bring bus loads to the theater ( another great positive note for theater itself) so make sure you do not miss this family friendly experience and gt your tickets today.

Here is what my grandson had to say

the wizard of oz .
it was relly funny. and it had lots of funny things. and it  had relly good music.
love adam
I can tell you that he and his little sister truly had a ball. This show is designed for kids of all ages ( Sarah is just three and Adam will be six in February. Your little ones will have a great time as well.

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