PHS’s The Wizard of Oz: A Review

On Thursday, April 21 to Sunday, April 24, the Pennridge community went off on a journey to see the wonderful Wizard of Oz. And what a journey it was! The Pennridge High School drama department put on an amazing show of The Wizard of Oz that delighted all: from young children to hardcore fans of the classic 1930s movie.

The musical version of The Wizard of Oz closely follows the plot of the movie. This is because the original is already a musical. So few changes, such as stage directions, choreography, and sets, need to be adjusted to make the story fit the stage. At the same time, elements like choreography and sets are needed to make each production unique and memorable. On this front, the drama department did not disappoint. Choreographer Cindy Cole did an amazing job putting together dance numbers to match the jazzy rhythm of each song. The dance moves felt original and refreshing; making each rhythmic routine feel unique, but also cohesive. The dance ensemble put a lot of energy into each number, even frightening scenes like the Jitterbug number. A notable choreography was the winged monkeys’ entrance. The lifts and waves in their movements gave a real flying effect. They were also incredibly agile as shown by their crawling about the floor to embody monkeys. Another stunning performance was the “Jitterbug” number. The ensemble dancers that played the jitterbugs were snazzy yet eerie giving the perfect blend of what jitterbugs are. The number was so energetic that it could make any audience member get up and dance — just like the Wicked Witch wanted!

No production can exist without its cast, and The Wizard of Oz had an amazing cast. From stellar seniors like Lily Cecere, Emily Jo, Kate Hockman, Rachel Wilson, and Ashley Ambolino to rising underclassmen stars like Jared Smith, Joshua Gunning, and Kyle West, every member of the cast displayed electric energy and really felt like they were meant to be in the musical. The stars of this production were also undoubtedly spectacular. Lily Cecere, who played Dorothy Gale, had heavenly vocals that emphasized Dorothy’s innocent and sweet charms as the main character. She also had great inflection that brought so much emotion into every line she had. The Scarecrow, played by Jared Smith, was charming and carried himself like the most gentlemanly scarecrow in the field. Joshua Gunning, the Cowardly Lion, was the most humorous character in the show. His one-liners in tense situations brought the audience into each scene and connected with them as well. His song, “If I were King of the Forest”, emphasized his spectacular vocals and captivated the audience with his comical interaction with the orchestra’s maestro. The final member of the main cast group, the Tinman, played by Bennett Hansbarger, brought life to his character with amazing tap dancing skills, giving a real metal effect to himself. Along with the ensemble cast, the main cast of characters made The Wizard of Oz a unique and vibrant production with their abilities to bring life to their written roles. Also a notable mention to Dean Wilson who drove his flower Munchkinland go-kart exceptionally well. Overall, the casting for The Wizard of Oz was excellent.

Just like the cast, having a great crew is essential to making the stage look great so the actors have a world around them to act in. Before the premier and performances of the shows, there were some issues with having set pieces completed very close to the showtime and being ready to put on the show. Grace King, a crow and ensemble member, mentioned, in regards to the show as a whole, “[We’re] maybe not prepared but I think we’re all ready. I don’t think we were well prepared but we’re ready to give it our all”. Despite any last-minute issues that may have occurred, the sets were present on the stage. They were slightly simple, but still effective in conveying the setting. Another aspect of the stage crew is costuming and makeup. The costuming and makeup were beyond belief. Claire Mundell, Head Student Costumer, hit the nail on the head for every single costume piece. Head Student Make-up & Hair Artist, Lily Long, put so much effort into curating each main character’s look and it shows. Long stated, “It takes me 40 minutes to put on each character’s makeup. A total of 80 for tinman and wicked witch”. The Tinman, Scarecrow, and the Witch’s makeup really helped build and bring the characters to life. Overall, the makeup for each character helped the audience connect to the characters and their expressions and emotions.

While the cast and crew had their ups and downs preparing for The Wizard of Oz, everyone came together and put on a performance that the entire Pennridge community enjoyed.