Monday December 17 5:27 am

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

"Wizard of Oz" - Review by Alan Bresloff

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The story is the same. Dorothy, a young girl ( beautifully portrayed by Elizabeth Stenholt, who truly makes you forget Judy ?) is living on a Kansas farm owned by her Aunt Em (Harriet Nzinga Plumpp, who also plays Glinda with great style) and Uncle Henry ( Steve O’Connell, who will wow you in his other role of the Guard at the Gates of Oz- smashing!). She is unhappy with her new life and her teacher, the mean Almira Glitch (deftly handled by Caron Buinis who is also divine as the Wicked Witch of the West). All she wants is to go back to her old life along with her dog, Toto (played to perfection by Nessa).

Bad weather arrives, the house is blown away ( or is it?), Dorothy ends up in the land of Oz , where she has great adventures with her three friends, The Scarecrow (Kyle Adams, who reminds me very much of Ray Bolger in his flexibility), the Tin Man ( deftly handled by Carl Draper) and the cowardly Lion ( Paul-Jordan Jansen is spectacular) where this quartet makes the trek to meet with the Wizard ( played to perfection by the always reliable Gene Weygandt, who has played this role in other plays, as well) and get their wishes taken care of.

The story is the same, the music as well, with the addition of a previously cut song, “Jitterbug” ( a charming piece that grabbed the younger set ( do they even know what a Jitterbug is?). FYI- In the ride home with our granddaughter Sarah and her new friend Marisa, both young actresses, they discussed some of the show. They loved it! The puppetry, the use of the aisles to go off stage and come back on was fun as the audience members felt that they were part of the performance.

The production and direction that Amber Mak took is what made this production so special. This play , although many think of it as a children’s story, is in reality a story for all of us to think about. In today’s modern world, we often take to the world of computer technology to solve our problems Perhaps, we can learn more from communicating with each other and reaching out to form friendships with others, who may appear different, but in reality are just like us. If we work with others, results can come quicker. I am reminded of an old adage I heard on the radio years ago., “All of us are smarter than any one of us”. Makes sense! If we rely on others, as Dorothy did, we find the courage (as the Lion did) to think it out (as the Scarecrow did) and to find the heart (as the Tin Man did) to see it come to be!

The tech side of this production was amazing. The set (Kevin Depinet & Christopher Rhoten), the costumes (Theresa Ham-glorious), lighting ( Greg Hofmann) and sound (Adam Rosenthal) were superb. The puppetry (Jesse Mooney-Bullock) added something special to this story as did the amazing projections (Kevan Loney) and the props (Jesse Gafney) were perfect. William Berloni is the animal trainer, and I must say Nessa was magnificent ( do I smell a Jeff nomination for her portrayal of Toto?)!

There is no way this production can achieve what it has without a solid ensemble, so hats off to:Emily Agy, Anastasia Arnold, Anna Brockman, Danielle Davila, Audrey Edwards, Julia Filapek, Allyson Graves, Elysa Hall, Rodney L. Jones III, Christopher Kelley, Sebastian Merlo, Maria Montero, Leah Morrow, Steve O’Connell, Nich O’Neil, Jessica Palkovic, Peter Sipla, Anthony Sullivan Jr., Trey Thompson, Aaron Umsted, Charlie Ward, J. Tyler Whitmer and Travis Austin Wright. Great work! The orchestra, led by Kory Danielson is great, making this a “worth the trip to Aurora” production.

By the way, the local restaurants are very involved with the theater. We parked our car about a block away from the Paramount and enjoyed a wonderful meal at Gillerson’s Grubbery. They, along with the majority of local dining spots have special menu items geared to the show and signage with reference to the show. I enjoyed the food and the staff at this family “bar” were great. www.gillersons.com is where you will find the menu for this very affordable and tasty spot. Special mini-burgers for the kids and the mac-n-cheese looked delish. 33 West New York Street ( an easy, mostly under-cover ) walk to the Paramount 630-340-3719

“The Wizard of Oz” will continue at The Paramount Theatre thru January 6th.

Performances:

Wednesdays: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thursdays: 7:00pm
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays: 1:00pm & 5:30pm

Show Type: Childrens/Family

The theater is located at 23 East Galena Street ( valet parking is available)

Box Office: 630-896-6666

www.paramountaurora.com/