To say that I am a friend of Dorothy is an understatement; my love for this classic character dates back before my clubbing years. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard the Alliance Theater was doing a production of “The Wizard of Oz”, one of those timeless classics that just won’t quit. There’s comedy, good versus evil and dare I say “Lions and Tigers and Bears. Oh my!”
Director Rosemary Newcott propels the audience into a fantasy world of how-did-they-do-that special effects, lovable characters and warm fuzzy feelings. Walking into the theatre, the audience is immediately welcomed in by the cozy feeling of being home. Rich colors and a homespun craftiness help entice the viewer and keep their attention along the journey down the yellow brick road.
Kat Conley’s set design transforms the stage into a wonderland of brightly colored patchwork and whimsy. Transitions from scene to scene flow effortlessly as if they were created by an engineer. The sort of fitting-puzzle-pieces-together inspiration for the set helped carry the folk art aesthetic of the play.
The highly engaging cast was led by a compelling performance from lead actress Sharisa Whatley (Dorothy Gale). For a character that could easily be played over the top, Whatley delivers a wide-eyed, restrained performance, Another stand-out performance came from actor Brad Raymond (Cowardly Lion). Raymond brought a lighthearted humor to the role of the Cowardly Lion and I found myself laughing after almost every line he delivered. One must also applaud the unexpected and clever use of puppets (Munchkins, The Crow and Toto) in the performance.
The Alliance Theatre’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” is running February 28 through March 11 at the Alliance Theatre located in the Woodruff Arts Center. Tickets are available online at www.alliancetheatre.org.
One last message for all the readers out there; don’t forget that we are all friends of Dorothy.