BY GEORGE J. DACRE
It all started back in 1900 when Frank Baum wrote “The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz,” a children’s novel that became a hit musical in Chicago and Broadway. In 1939, it then went on, of course, to become one of the iconic movies in Hollywood history, starring Judy Garland.
The theatre version of the show continues and is now on the main-stage at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, the 185th production in the theatre’s 40 year history.
Young Devon Perry, just out of college, is a credible Dorothy Gale, who wonders if “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” she can find happiness. Her dreams come true, but not how she might expect and not without a few problems along the way. First she’s swept off in a tornado and her house lands in “Oz,” a magical world with little in common with Kansas, her home.
Dorothy, with her trusty dog Toto in stow, must fend with the Wicked Witch (Nicole Tori), and find her way to the great Wizard of Oz, who she hopes will help her get back home.
In Oz Dorothy meets the lovable Munchkins and follows the Yellow Brick Road to the wizard, and along the way she encounters the Scarecrow (Tim Dolan) who thinks he doesn’t have a brain, the Tin man (Chris Kind) who thinks he doesn’t have a heart , the Cowardly lion (Jayson Elliot), who wants to have courage, the Good Witch Glinda (Michelle Dawson), the menacing flying monkeys and finally the Wizard of Oz himself (Ken Jennings).
Under the direction of Richard Stafford, with great sound and special effects, WBT puts on a fantastic production of this children’s story, which became a peoples’ story over the years. All of the great musical numbers are there with Devon Perry establishing her role of Dorothy with a strong rendition of “Over The Rainbow,” followed by “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” “Yellow Brick Road,” “If I Only Had A Brain,” “We’re Off to See the Wizard,” “If I Only Had Had a Heart” and on.
Orchestration, led by conductor William Stanley, is superb and the choreography of Dorothy, the Munchkins, the Scarecrow, the Tin man , the Lion, the ensemble and cast are wondrously sketched by Jonathan Stahl.
Devon Perry, Jayson Elliot, Ken Jennings (who also plays Professor Marvel), Chris Kind, Michele Lawson, Tim Dolan and Nicole Tori are backed up by a terrific ensemble of young dancers and singers . Toto (Nigel) steals the spotlight on several occasions with his wonderful behavior and entrances on cue.
The almost full house last Thursday reflects the welcome that area theatregoers are giving to this perrennial favorite. I rate “The Wizard of Oz” at Westchester Broaday Theatre Four Out Of Four Stars.”
And the food is great. Tickets at 914-592-2222 or www.broadwaytheatre.com.