Woodrow Wilson High School
What is both a musical extravaganza and a commentary on populism reflective of the sociopolitical conflict of an industrializing society? The answer, of course, is "The Wizard of Oz." This American fairytale has found a ubiquitous place in the hearts of people of all ages, from its initial release within the pages of L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel, to the iconic 1939 musical film adaptation, to Oakcrest School's charming production. With strong physical choices, smart costuming, and a lot of heart, the spirited cast and crew transported the audience over the rainbow.
The memorable characters of "The Wizard of Oz" have been woven into the fabric of American life by the musical's continuing popularity. As Dorothy, whose odyssey of self-realization was made inextricable from popular culture through Judy Garland's quintessential portrayal, Kiley Hatch served as a compelling center to the production. Hatch's earnest performance embodied the frustrated farmgirl with authenticity, and was burgeoned by pure vocals which were particularly showcased in the opening number, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." The infectious energy of the Scarecrow (Ava Quaale), Tin Man (Edith Barvick), and Cowardly Lion (Eli Crishock) likewise enlivened their journey down the yellow-brick road. The distinctive choices made by these companions were consistently impressive, including Quaale's bowed physicality, Barvick's command of her lower register, and Crishock's excellent comedic timing.
Those who played roles in both the grounded environment of Dorothy's Kansas home and the fantastical one she encounters showed significant dexterity as actresses. Megan Meehan was fiercely protective as Aunt Em and mature and graceful as Glinda; Katiebelle Thompson's use of vocal timbre was memorable as Miss Almira Gulch and wickedly funny as the Witch of the West; Simonne Lenseigne was engaging and wily as the Professor and the Wizard of Oz. These performances served the cyclical nature of the plot and emphasized the thematic significance of those casting parallels.
The whimsical Land of Oz, realized creatively in Oakcrest's nontraditional space, was populated by a committed cast executing a variety of ensemble work that characterized the different realms. From Munchkinland to the Emerald City, they flipped, twirled, and even tap danced to the beloved score and catchy lyrics, exhibiting exceptional energy in "Munchkinland." Creative costuming made sassy crows out of Angela Diaz-Bonilla, Bela Wilson, and Katie Svoboda, and indignant trees from Elena Buono, Meredith Klote, and Nora Hill, two particularly memorable trios in the first act. From the thoughtful combinations of the Tin Man and Cowardly Lion with the style of the production's historical era, to the sharp, fittingly emerald outfitting of the Ozians in the "The Merry Old Land of Oz." The neat styling maintained an eye-catching 1940's aesthetic. The cohesion of Oakcrest cast and crew was apparent in all facets of their production. Actors made use of aisles and balconies, back and side entrances, and were even projected onto a screen, creating an immersive experience.
In "The Wizard of Oz," Dorothy encounters not only lions and tigers and bears, or Ozians and jitterbugs and Munchkins, but the challenges of maturation and finding one's place in society. Her eventual realization that "there's no place like home" reflects timeless themes of friendship, family and fantasy which were realized with aplomb and originality by Oakcrest School.
McLean High School
Witches and wizards and munchkins, oh my! We're off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz at Oakcrest School's extraordinary and wondrous production of "The Wizard of Oz".
"The Wizard of Oz" has its roots in L. Frank Baum's 1900 children's novel by the name of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." The book spawned its first Broadway adaptation in 1903 and has since generated many musical and play adaptations. Possibly the most well known version of the story is the 1939 film starring Judy Garland, celebrated for its revolutionary use of Technicolor. The show follows Dorothy and her little dog Toto as they are transported from Kansas to the spectacular land of Oz by twister. As Dorothy adventures through Oz in an attempt to find the Wizard and escape the Wicked Witch of the West, she finds friends in a scarecrow, a tin man, and a lion. Ultimately, Dorothy learns that good friends come from the unlikeliest places, persistence can accomplish anything, and, of course, there's no place like home.
Dorothy was played beautifully by Kiley Hatch. Hatch's sweet voice and transatlantic elocution paid homage to Judy Garland, which brought the audience back in time to the 1930s. In the show's classic and most recognizable song "Over the Rainbow," Hatch stunned with her soaring soprano vocals and never failed to leave the room breathless with awe. Dorothy's endearing nature was captured perfectly by Hatch's emotional performance during her many solo scenes. Katiebelle Thompson captivated with her performance as the nefarious Wicked Witch of the West. Thompson's spot-on cackle and fiery persona resulted in an outstanding portrayal of a character the audience loved to hate.
An array of fun, imaginative characters joined the cast to bring out the true magic of Oz. The brainless Scarecrow, heartless Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion were played by Ava Quaale, Edith Barvick, and Eli Crishock respectively. The three worked incredibly well with one another, flawlessly communicating the spirit of friendship, yet each actress offered something unique and made herself distinct from the group. Particularly notable was Crishock's adorable nervousness as the Cowardly Lion. Crishock contributed heartwarming humor to the show as the lion learns that real courage is facing your fears with friends by your side. Oakcrest's talented ensemble tackled a multitude of diverse roles to showcase the eccentric land of Oz. From cheerful munchkins to sassy crows to petulant apple trees to flying monkeys, the ensemble expertly took on the variety of characters with boundless energy and personality.
Various technical elements came together to create impressive visuals. The costumes crew, captained by Bela Wilson, helped bring the vivid color of Oz alive. There was no shortage of green in the Emerald City, and Munchkinland was a display of brilliant shades and tones. Dorothy's classic blue checkered dress and red ruby slippers paid tribute to the beloved original designs. Lighting, done by Kateri Castillo and Sofia Cipollone, got creative with colored spotlights and fun effects. The lighting during the twister scene was especially commendable as it produced a disorienting effect.
The cast and crew of Oakcrest School's The Wizard of Oz reminds us that dreams really do come true somewhere over the rainbow. All you have to do is follow the yellow brick road.