This year the Kimberley Summer Theatre took on arguably the most well-known and widely recognized musical production of all time, the Wizard of Oz.
Although it is a tall order, the cast re-kindles the inspiration and childhood wonder caused when watching the movie for the very first time.
This production isn’t their ordinary go-around; it is very involved – with live music, a giant projector, elaborate scene changes, a big handful of children and one real little dog.
One of the most impressive elements of the production is the multiple scene changes. The Wizard of Oz is filled with different and unique lands, as we know from the movie.
Each scene has a different layout from the next, especially when Dorothy and her new found friends skip along the yellow brick road.
The team uses a large projector screen to bring the locations to life, giving them more depth, color and movement. As well, the projector works perfectly for the first appearance of the Wizard of Oz and other interesting elements along the way.
Christina Kim, the Musical Director for the production, plays all the music on piano and the live music definitely gives the play that something extra.
With dramatic deep chords when the characters face the spooks, and light dreamy melodies when Dorothy day dreams about her place over the rainbow, Kim’s musically interludes would be surely missed.
Another big part of the play is the children who play Munchkins and townsfolk of Emerald City. All the kids help bring the big scenes together, with their high-energy and attentive participation, each play their part in the elaborately choreographed takes.
All the kids showed a lot of dedication and one example is Saige DePaoli – proud father Brian talked about her dedication of never missing a practice and never once grumbling about it.
And who could forget the pooch that played Toto, Dorothy’s beloved best friend. The pup is adorable and although at times he is struck with a bit of stage fright, he is another example of how the Kimberley Summer Theatre brings this classic to life.
Fiona McIntyre plays Dorothy and she is meant for the role. Her passion for the play shines through in her performance – a sweetheart, spitfire and a dreamer. Your heart will melt well she sings ‘Over the Rainbow’ faster that a certain wicked witch.
Raymond Johnson Brown’s performance of Scarecrow is outstanding and classic. From the moment he comes to life, he is a childhood best friend. The wobbly kneed and smiley scarecrow with his can-do attitude is sure to win you over.
Stuart Fink nails his performance as Tinman. He is loyal to the others, always looking out for them, and genuine with his emotions. His dance moves and sweet demeanor is sure to charm you from the start.
Jeremy Verkley interpretation of Cowardly Lion rivals that of the movie. He is feisty scaredy cat – a walking contradiction with a hilarious accent. Verkley causes the biggest laughs and bouts of inspiration from those big and small.
The play also features Thia Sterling as the Wicked Witch, Trisha Woodley as motherly Aunty Em and Glinda the Good Witch, Tenaj Williams as good ol’ Uncle Henry and local star Brent Gill as the wonderful Wizard of Oz. Rounding out the cast is Dana Doucette who leads a myriad of adorable child extras as everything from lovable Munchkins to villainous Winkies.
A production this large required a dream-team of a creative crew: Kirsten Taylor, scenic director, Christina Kim, musical director, Rusty Gahr, lighting and sound director, Nadine Abbey, costumes and props designer, Lucy Collingwood, stage manager, Marta Zeegers, vocal coach, Bryony Skelton, assistant stage manager, Ryan Von Hagen, animations director (oz) and Peny Flegel, scenic paint designer.
Director Truus Verkley and Producer Tony James should give themselves a pat on the back for bringing this true classic to Kimberley.