Wonderful Wizard of Oz - December 2002
This Wizard worth going off to see
North York Mirror, December 18, 2002
By Clarie Martin
Special to the Mirror
The Civic Light Opera Company is marvelously inventive in
bringing about musical version of L. Frank Baum’s “The
Wonderful Wizard of Oz” to the Fairview Library Theatre.
Director Joe Cascone and cast give us a group of delightfully
pint-sized Munchkins, a nest of very helpful mice (who might be
expected to live in the field behind Auntie En’s farm, but were
never, ever seen) and all the old familiar characters.
Cascone worked on this “new musical” with composed and
fellow Oz-fancier James P. Doyle (now deceased) and first
presented it in December 2000.
Unless you saw that show, you will not recognize the songs and music.
Unless you read Baum’s first book on Oz, even parts of the story (what are “Kalidahs” and “Hammerheads?”) are unfamiliar.
Cascone has been loyal to Baum in writing the script for this production and Doyle has been wonderfully disloyal to the MGM
movie musical (starring Judy Garland as Dorothy) in composing a collection of very different songs. The sentiments, however,
remain the same” a young girl, tossed about by the elements, takes the yellow brick road to wisdom – mind, body and soul.
Cascone represents Baum on stage as narrator (and often as prop man) and also operates as the Wizard himself. This is a nice
effect since Baum is the wizard behind the many productions and offshoot performances of this uncanny tale, which has amazed
and informed young and old for more than 100 years. Doyle’s lyrics never mention “rainbows.” They don’t’ seem to be as
memorable or hummable, but that may possibly be because they are unfamiliar in the Land of Oz.. I did, however, find myself
rehearsing lines like “just a touch of humbug” from the song of the same name.
The sentiments of “Pull Together,” sung by the Mouse Queen (Carol Kugler) and her field mice friends, tickle the heartstrings. A
rather vampish Wicked Witch of the West, played by Julie Lennick, belts out “Wicked is What I Do” and I applaud her for it.
“Further Along the Way,” a tune that Baum and “the four friends” sing together at each juncture of their later travels made me wish
the way was not quite as long. It takes a little more brainwork (even for scarecrows in the audience) to assimilate a rafting trip
down a raging river or an assortment of newfangled alien to our concept of Oz.
Twelve year-old Kelly Sanders, who could make a career of The Wizard of Oz (at least until she grows up) plays Dorothy and hers
is a role amply carried out.
Cameron McKinnon’s Scarecrow is as gangly as Ray Bolger’s in the MGM musical, Bryan Chamberlain’s Tin Woodman as
stalwart as Jack Haley’s and
David Haines’ Cowardly Lion as comic as Bert Lahr’s / Joanne Kennedy’s Glinda sparkles like a movie gem. Storks, crows,
monkeys and tigers flutter and prowl without incident.
Even Jesse, as Toto the dog, does not mess up.