Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: 'The Wizard of Oz' at Derby Dinner Playhouse

Tonight, I watched a production of The Wizard of Oz at Derby Dinner Playhouse in Clarksville, Indiana!

From left to right; Paul Kerr as the Cowardly Lion, Tyler Bliss as the Tin Man, Cami Glauser as Dorothy, and Matthew Brennan as the Scarecrow.

The pre-show entertainment was provided by an acapella group called The Footnotes, who, oddly, were also the waiters and waitresses here. They sang three songs from Wicked and The Wiz, and did a nice job.

After a short break, the show began... and it was truly fantastic! The round stage is small, and in the center of the theater, but it never feels crowded. The actors make use of the entire theater, with characters popping up offstage and interacting with those onstage. There really is no bad seat in the theater, and it's a very unique and immersive experience.

Dorothy is played by Cami Glauser, who will surely be on Broadway in the next few years. Her rendition of Over the Rainbow is beautiful, and, having seen this story on stage many times over the years, she is the best Dorothy I've seen. She doesn't try to impersonate Judy Garland; she makes the role her own, and it's clear while watching the show how much fun she is having doing it!

Matthew Brennan (the Scarecrow), Tyler Bliss (the Tin Man), and Paul Kerr (the Cowardly Lion) play the iconic trio, and are really fun to watch. It's almost amazing how Brennan is able to dance around like he is really made of straw. Paul Kerr is brilliantly hilarious as the Cowardly Lion, and is a scene stealer, as Bert Lahr was in the classic movie!

Other standouts in the cast are Jillian Prefach as Aunt Em/Glinda, Lauren Leland as Ms. Gulch/the Witch of the West, and... Reese as Toto! She is amazingly calm and quiet throughout the show, and has some really adorable moments. Though not a black cairn terrier as Toto is normally portrayed, she is a treat!

I have to make a quick mention of the fact that most of the costumes and sets, from the witches' costumes to the Wizard's wig, are very clearly inspired by Andrew Lloyd Webber's recent stage adaptation of the movie, though he is given no credit or mention in the show's program.

A publicity photo from Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage adaptation when it opened at the London Palladium.

The buffet isn't anything special, but the desserts are nice and are worth paying the extra few dollars for. If you've got little ones that are picky eaters, I'd say that it may be best to eat at home and go only for the show, as there are not many kid-friendly options.

Overall, I really enjoyed the show, and I have to urge you to see this if you're nearby, because it is a super fun show with some unbelievably talented actors and actresses!

The Wizard of Oz runs at the Derby Dinner Playhouse through August 18th with a performance every night except Monday, and a matinee show on Wednesday and Sunday. Purchase tickets through the theater's website here.

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