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Excelsior Springs High School's The Wizard of Oz Selected Reviews

James Long
Winnetonka High School

Submitted for publication to KC Star Online

Lions and tigers and bears oh my! THE WIZARD OF OZ at Excelsior Springs High School breathes life into this all-time classic. Be prepared to follow the yellow brick road to an adventure that leaves the audience wanting more! Excelsior Springs High School is able to capture the magic that makes this show such an icon and is enjoyable for all ages!

When a tornado rips through Kansas, Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, are taken away in their small farm home to the magical land of Oz. They follow the Yellow Brick Road toward the Emerald City to meet the Wizard of Oz, and on the way they meet a Scarecrow that needs a brain, a Tin Man that needs a heart, and a Cowardly Lion who wants courage. The Wizard asks the group to bring him the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West to earn his help and get everyone what they want.

Leading this amazing cast of characters is Emily Meehan in the role of Dorothy Gale. Meehan brings the audience in from the beginning and is always a friendly face to see onstage. Meehan utilizes her powerful voice to deliver some of the most iconic songs this show is known for. Meehan sings with, not only a beautiful voice, but is able to get the audience's sympathy for Dorothy with her performance. Coupled with her voice, Meehan's acting successfully portrays the lovable farm girl and keeps the audience engaged with her reactions to facing such opposition, and to meeting so many new people.

Supporting Dorothy are her friends she meets along the way. The Scarecrow, played by Jackson Houston, makes the audience cackle like a wicked witch with his wonderful comedic timing. The Tinman, played by Noah Dotson, performs with all his heart and needs no oil to perform this metal man. And who could forget the Cowardly Lion? Played by Andrew Harness, this lion has all the courage he needs to perform to crowds and is one of the most entertaining characters to watch on stage, because no matter what he will always be in character.

Keeping the magic alive, the Stage Crew of this show, being led by Landen Summers, changes entire worlds between scenes, and moves so fast you don't even know that the scenes change until you are looking at a new set. In addition to this, the Fly Crew that makes Dorothy, Glinda the Good Witch, the Monkeys, and The Wicked Witch fly, surprises the audience with the ability to suck actors up into a tornado.

Every show has its spells placed upon it, but this show shakes them off with ease. With the occasional mic issues and lack of consistency on character voices, this show makes up for it with the ability to fix any issue quickly.

There is no place like Excelsior Springs High School to see THE WIZARD OF OZ. This show will capture your imagination and make you want to walk along the yellow brick road. Don't miss your chance to see this show before the twister comes!

Erica Burnett
Winnetonka High School

Submitted for publication to The Pitch


The Tinman needs a heart, the Scarecrow needs a brain, the Cowardly Lion needs some courage, and poor Dorothy just wants to go home. Excelsior Springs High School takes you on the path of the yellow brick road in their production of the original musical THE WIZARD OF OZ.

THE WIZARD OF OZ first became a musical in 1903. It was based off of the children's book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz written by L. Frank Baum. The story line follows Dorothy and her dog Toto being located to the magical land of Oz after a tornado tears through Kansas. On her way to the Emerald City to return home Dorothy comes across the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Cowardly Lion. After arriving at Emerald City, the group soon discovers that in order to receive his help the Wizard wants them to retrieve the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Emily Meehan portrays the young and compassionate Dorothy Gale. Meehan demonstrates her acting skills by continuing to keep an enthusiastic expression not only on her face but in her voice every time she comes across a new character. The audience is left in awe with Meehan's voice in songs such as, "Over the Rainbow". Jackson Houston's tumbling and swift movements help him become the Scarecrow. Bringing the Cowardly Lion to life is Andrew Harness and his powerful presence on stage is full of laugh out loud moments.

Glinda the Good Witch is portrayed by Annika Thorson. Her sweet and soothing voice is heard in the "Munchkin Musical Sequence". Thorson manages to do an excellent job in creating a selfless and humble character. With her menacing and evil laugh, Isabella Selby is transformed into the Wicked Witch of the West. Selby makes good use of hand gestures to become manipulating and dominant on stage.

Throughout the show elaborate sets and backdrops are used. In Munchkin Land bright colors help set a happy mood, however one standout piece is the flower archway. The use of various vibrant colors of flowers on it help establish the beauty of Munchkin Land. While most costumes are creative and unique one standout one is the Tinman's outfit that to the naked eye looks as if it is made out of real tin. The fly crew does a fantastic job of flying characters in and out of the stage especially with Dorothy during the cyclone scene. The super-fast makeup and costume changes are impressive as well.

Many characters manage to maintain a consistent accent throughout the show however, a few characters accents seem to go missing towards the end. While the ensemble's pitches are excellent at times, they can be hard to hear. During the show many characters use great facial expressions but, some characters expressions are lost from low hanging hats creating shadows on faces. Despite some low energy moments, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion manage to quickly pick it back up.

Excelsior Springs High School's production of THE WIZARD OF OZ will leave you with a smile on your face and a wow in your mind.

Cheyli Ferbet
Raytown High School

Submitted for publication to Excelsior Springs Standard

Take a journey down the yellow brick road with Excelsior Springs High School in their production of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Watch as magic and hope fills the air around the audience through Dorothy's trip to the Land of Oz.

Excelsior Springs High School presents THE WIZARD OF OZ written by L. Frank Baum in May of the year 1900. Music by Herbert Stothart. THE WIZARD OF OZ is a story of a young girl named Dorothy from Kansas who gets swept up into a tornado and then finds herself in the Land of Oz. Throughout her story she will meet three characters who all need to visit the Wizard for something they do not have but wish to have. They join Dorothy on the yellow brick road to find this Wizard and help Dorothy get home.

Emily Meehan who plays Dorothy Gale is doing a phenomenal job using clear diction in each word she says. She plays her character with a gentle touch showing the audience how innocent and young Dorothy is to be. Meehan shows every emotional moment in her face beautifully. A plus to Meehan's performance was showing the audience how gentle and calm she is with the dog Todo, who is in fact a real dog.

The beautiful charismatic Aunt Em/Glinda the Good Witch played by Annika Thorson shows her passion for this role through her facial expressions and the trust of the fly rails flying her in and out on the gorgeous bubble created by the scenic team. Thorson's voice carries through the audience like a calm lullaby being sang to a child falling asleep. She portrays her character with peace and happiness. Andrew Harness plays Zeke/Cowardly Lion with every part of him, voice to movement, mind to character choices. Everyone in the audience is entranced towards Harness because of his constant movements in character and emotional expression through his face. As he cries over being a coward, Harness gives huge expressions with hand movement and face.

The scenic design of this show is colorful, extraordinary, and dazzling. Scenic designers, Wyatt Jarvis, Carlos Lopez, Dalton Loftie, and Michael Arial have given a lot of thought into the magic that is needed for this production of WIZARD OF OZ. From there rainbow made of paper flowers that covers the whole width of the stage and height to Dorothy's little home of white wood and the porch light lit up covering the stage during the first scene. Every aspect of their design catches the audience's attention. The little Munchkins homes pop with color and the Emerald City backdrop is as Emerald as ever.

The whole production is outstanding but, there is dead time in between scenes as different sets come on and off. Lights come up too early leaving the audience waiting for the actors to appear on stage.

From every emotional scene to technical aspects like the set design and lights, Excelsior Springs High School created a twister of a production that blew away the audience. Each actor put their all into their character and keeps it together to the end. They take the audience through a story of chaos and friendship and they show the audience what matters most, home.

About the Author

Rackers, Brad

Rackers, Brad

Chair - FY20 Season


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