Highly Recommended ***** Theater for young audiences is something very special in our Chicago “theater scene”. Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire is far and away one of the best for bringing our youth to the theater- school groups and families alike. Currently, the Theatre for young audiences shares its “The King and I” stage with the family favorite, “The Wizard of Oz”, a remake and retake of the classic film into a one hour staged musical under the direction and choreography of Rachel Rockwell, who has made quite a name for herself as the “magician” of theatre for young people, this is 60 minutes of magical story telling. We all know the famous movie that brought fame to Judy Garland, and last year,, the new Broadway In Chicago production that was filled with glitz and great special effects. Marriott Theatre doesn’t do all the fancy stuff, but what they have in this slick production is a small, tight cast that truly makes the little ones feel what it might be like to be “Dorothy” and how important ist is to love those around you for who they are and what they do for you.
The story is the same. Dorothy ( played to perfection by Dara Cameron) and her little dog Toto are swept away from their Kansas farm home in a Tornado ( or is she). She lands in a place called Oz where she meets a Good Witch ( a few bad ones) and some very special characters as she searches for a way to get back to her aunt and uncle. The good witch, Glinda, i splayed by Joahanna McKenzie Miller, who also plays Aunt Em and the bad witches by Susan Moniz. Uncle Henry and the Wizard are played by Rob Rahn (welcome back Rob). The part about the Wizard also being the snake-oil salesman is eliminated to keep the story a bit simpler for the little ones and while we do not have a slew of Munchkins and flying monkeys, the three ensemble members who take on a number of roles, Debbie Laumand-Blanc, Tyler Whitmer and Amanda Tangual are amazing in bringing the many characters to life. Just shows that quality over quantity is what truly makes a difference.
The story needs to have three strong actors playing the three men who change Dorothy’s life along the way, The Tin Man, The Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion, and Rockwell has indeed found the trio perfection to tackle these roles. George Keating does a splendid job as the scarecrow seeking a brain, Alex Goodrich brings a certain charm to the heartless Tin Man and Jeff Max is a powerful Cowardly Lion. These three along with Dorothy make the trek down the “yellow Brick Road” a wonderful experience.
Adam, who attended the BIC production earlier this season, found this show to be far less in production spectacle, but felt that the characters were richer and more understandable. In other words, more realistic. The costumes were colorful and while the special effects were not as big, they were in fact helpful to getting the story told.
Sarah, loved the colorful costumes (Nancy Missimi) and thought the singing and dancing was terrific. Sarah, who is a second grader loved the way that Dorothy fell asleep when the Witch cast a spell on her and her friends, but her favorite thing was that the story was told in a short period of time, only an hour, but kept true to the story that “there is no place like home”..
There are many of the original songs used in this production: “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, “Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead”, Follow The Yellow Brick Road”, and some shorter versions of others.
You can click your heels three times (even if you are not wearing ruby slippers) and join these wonderful characters as they bring this dark story to the stage at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, now through January 3rd 9 perfect for the holidays) with performances as follows:
Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m.
Some Fridays at 12:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. starting the 29th
Tickets are very affordable at $15 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 847-634-0200 or online at www.MarriottTheatre.com
The theater is located in Lincolnshire at 10 Marriott Drive just South of Route 22 and East of Route 21 in Lincolnshire with plenty of free parking.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “The Wizard of Oz”