‘We’re not in Kansas anymore’

Posted 11/19/11

Leave Main Street behind as you climb the stairs to Town Hall’s cozy theater and reset your head to enter the magical land of Oz, where there are …

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‘We’re not in Kansas anymore’


Leave Main Street behind as you climb the stairs to Town Hall’s cozy theater and reset your head to enter the magical land of Oz, where there are witches, a Wizard and a whole ensemble of wonderful Munchkins.

Your guides will be Dorothy (Zoe Miller) her little black, amazingly well-trained dog Toto (Lucy Mason Kelly) and a ragtag crew assembled along the way.

Readers who have loved the movie version and are anxious about whether the wonderful Land of Oz can fit on Town Hall’s small stage area should rest assured that it can.

A clever 1987 adaptation by the Royal Shakespeare Company, precise direction by David and Julie Payne, creative choreography by Kelly Kates all contribute to a smooth, colorful production — a true Sugar Plum for the holidays. Music direction by Donna Debreceni plus set, costume, lighting and sound design are synchronized and excellent.

The story is part of our cultural fabric and quotes from the show pop up constantly in everyday conversation and entertainment. And a trip through Kansas today will yield innumerable Oz-oriented souvenirs. A Smithsonian curator who spoke at the Littleton Museum included Dorothy’s red slippers among his favorite objects in the vast collection. And, how often we hear “lions and tigers and bears — oh my!” The themes resonate with folks of all ages as we search for courage, intelligence and the ability to feel.

Zoe Miller has a clear, trained voice and astonishing poise for one so young. Her Dorothy sets the bar for the other characters, who come through in all cases as believable and engaging. Kids who attend will love seeing their contemporaries dancing in Munchkin Land; parents and grandparents will enjoy the Great Oz’s sarcastic observations on society and Dorothy’s buddies: Tin Man (Barret Harper), Scarecrow (Eric Mather) and Lion Robert Michael Sanders), fashioned after the Kansas farm’s handymen are a delight.

Lori Hansen, in the enviable role of Miss Gultch/Wicked Witch of the West has that scary cackle down pat as she swoops across the stage with her broom. What fun that role must be to an experienced actress. And veteran Jim Hunt thunders and evades as the Wizard who really doesn’t possess so many skills. Ron Welch plays Uncle Henry and Oz’s guard, with a hop-skip in his step, while loveable Auntie Em and the Good Witch Glinda are played by Charla Mason.

The production ran over two and a half hours on opening night, although presumably it will be tightened up. Anyhow, a nap might be in order for the younger audience members prior to climbing those stairs to Oz.

“The Wizard of Oz,” based on L. Frank Baum’s book, with music and lyrics from the 1939 film, presented at Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St., downtown Littleton, plays through Dec. 31. Performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and select Wednesdays; 2 p.m. Sundays and select Saturdays; 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11. Tickets: $23-$42, 303-794-2787 ext. 5, townhallartscenter.com.


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