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
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.
Stop the World - February 2001
All the world’s a circus in this
Stop the World, I Want to Get Off
North York Mirror, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2002
By Maria Tzavaras
Special to the Mirror
When the lights go up to reveal a circus setting in The Civic Light Opera
Company’s latest production, Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, the last thing
you’d expect to see is a musical comedy about a power hungry, cheating
But the circus setting, much like the play, is full of symbolism about the
absurdities of human nature and how our lives often parallel the craziness of a
three-ring circus. If nothing else, the trapeze on the ceiling seemed to symbolize
the main character’s swinging from woman to woman.
Stop the World, I Want to Get Off by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse is a musical comedy that follows the entire life of Littlechap (Joe Cascone) and
all his escapades. We see from the time Littlechap was young, he had a healthy appetite for the ladies. One day at a disco, he meets his match in Evie (Julie
Lennick), who turns out to be his boss’ daughter, and after an accidental pregnancy, his wife.
As Littlechap becomes a father and gets a promotion from his crummy job, he also gets antsy with his predicament, resenting he has to stick with one
woman forever. As his life travels farther away from what he thought it would be, Littlechap faces his life the only way he can – with humour.
Throughout the play, eight chorus ladies decked out in different clown suits, wonderfully add to the atmosphere by assuming numerous roles in each of
Littlechap’s predicament. As Littlechap is continually promoted, he begins traveling on business trips, which becomes his outlet to fulfill his one-woman
man dilemma. In Russia, he pursues Anya, in Japan, Ara, in New York, Lorene. He even tries with his German nanny, Ilse. All these characters were
impressively played by Lennick, who sang and spoke in different accents appropriate to each country.
Cascone made a notable performance as Littlechap, and although he spends most of his time climbing the corporate ladder and cheating on his wife, he
somehow wins your approval with his candid sense of humour and honesty in how he feels.
Whether you enjoy Stop the World I Want to Get Off for its plot or not, you most likely will enjoy the music throughout, which includes well-known tunes
like, “Gonna Build a Mountain” and “What Kind of Fool am I?”
As there are laughs to be had throughout, the show is quick-paced with a constant change of scenery. That, coupled with going through a man’s entire life
in two hours, the show becomes confusing at times, and you may find yourself following the program that describes every scene. Otherwise, Stop the
World, I Want to Get Off is an entertaining evening.
Stop the World, I Want to Get Off runs until March 2 at the Fairview Library Theatre.
Some Enchanted Evening (return engagement) - August 2004
Front Row Centre: The Sounds of
Rodgers & Hammerstein
By Mark Lawrence
The songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein seem to have been with us forever.
From 1943 to 1959 the team created nine Broadway shows, plus one film and
one television musical. As both producers and songwriters, their names became
synonymous with Broadway. It was a time when theatre music fed the hit
parade and recordings of their shows sold millions of copies. Less than ten
years after their final Broadway production opened, the divorce between
popular music and theatre music would be final. So, as they defined an era they
also closed the book on it.
The Civic Light Opera Company pays tribute to the team with a revival of their
popular revue SOME ENCHANTED EVENING at the Fairview Library
The six performers are all very much at home with the material having all played in previous productions of the shows. The staging is simple and effective,
always visually interesting while allowing the songs their chance to shine.
Not all of the songs are well known. Early in proceedings Carol Kugler offers a beautiful reading rendition of “Boys and Girls Like You and Me” – a song cut
from OKLAHOMA! during try-outs. It may not have worked in the story, but Richard Rodgers’ melody deserves to be heard.
We tend to think of Hammerstein as the original cockeyed optimist, offering simple romantic statements. Think of “If I Loved You” from CAROUSEL, set to
one of Richard Rodgers’ most haunting melodies, and beautifully sung here by Catherine Uy. But Hammerstein could be witty and ironic at times. Susan
Sanders makes the case in Act One with “The Gentleman is a Dope” from ALLEGRO and David Haines reminds us in Act Two with “Don’t Marry Me” a
comic reverse proposal written for FLOWER DRUM SONG.
Every contemporary theatre lyricist owes a huge debt to Hammerstein, who learned early on the importance of structuring songs to tell stories and communicate
feelings. The “Soliloquy” from CAROUSEL is still a model of theatre writing at its finest, and Joe Cascone offers a true show-stopping moment with the piece,
navigating the sudden shifts in mood and bringing out the subtle nuances of the character.
At the other end of the subtlety spectrum is “A Lovely Night” from the television musical CINDERELLA. Here the number is played for laughs with Susan
Sanders and David Haines as the two ugly stepsisters mocking the heroine. It is a far cry from the solemnity of “Climb Every Mountain.”
Near the end of SOME ENCHANTED EVENING Bob Deutsch offers a simple, straightforward performance of “Edelweiss” from THE SOUND OF MUSIC.
The song is intended to sound like an Austrian folksong, but the nationalist pride transcends boundaries. And, fittingly, the last word is “forever.”
For information on SOME ENCHANTED EVENING and the Civic Light Opera Company’s upcoming season which includes GYPSY; YOURS, ANNE; BABES IN
ARMS and MY FAIR LADY visit www.CivicLightOperaCompany.com or call (416) 755-1717.