Tuesday, May 26, 2015

review - THE WIZARD OF OZ - Hale Centre Theatre

Vinny Chavez, Jesse Thomas Foster, Geoffrey Goorin, 
Jessie Jo Pauley and Teddy
Photo: Nick Woodward- Shaw /Hale Centre Theatre
highlights from Gil's review at Talkin' Broadway- (click link at bottom of review highlights to read complete review)

"...With five productions of The Wizard of Oz playing across Phoenix this month, there is no shortage of theatrical Ozs to feast upon and, even with a few shortcomings, Hale Centre Theatre's production, that just opened, is bright, bold and colorful and grounded with a seamless performance from Jessie Jo Pauley as Dorothy....Though there are a couple of missteps along the journey, in typical Hale fashion, they pull out all stops with this production. With imaginative costumes from Corrin Dietlein and Mary Atkinson and vibrant lighting from Jeff A. Davis, the Hale stage comes alive with pops of color and creativity. Director and choreographer Cambrian James has crafted some fun dances and most of his cast deliver winning performances without being carbon copies of the iconic film portrayals....Jessie Jo Pauley is stunning as Dorothy. She exhibits a wide range of emotions with ease, from pensive to headstrong, passionate, fearful and optimistic. At just 16, Pauley not only brings the right combination of sweet sincerity and teenage angst to the role, but also has a warm, bright singing voice that, when combined with her dedicated portrayal, allows Dorothy's songs to have an emotional connection. It is a superb performance....As the trio of friends that Dorothy meets, Jesse Thomas Foster, Vinny Chavez, and Geoffrey Goorin are all quite good as the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion, respectively...As Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch, Heidi-Liz Johnson is going for a slightly more comical and less evil take on both of the characters, portraying them basically as just two very mean people...Johnson is fine with what she does, I just would have preferred a more seriously evil take that is more at counterpoint to the more comical characters in the show....James' direction is quite good. He also has come up with several varied dances, including a high energy "Jitterbug" number, as well as some fun synchronized movement for the crows who taunt the Scarecrow. ..Also, while James' direction and the creative elements are mostly impressive, the decision to have an abridged ending to the show is a bit of a let-down, especially since—SPOILER ALERT—we never are told that the entire journey was a dream...While I realize this change means that none of the heavily costumed actors have to attempt to change back to their Kansas counterparts in what is a very short amount of time, it also somewhat minimizes the meaning of the story and Dorothy's realization that the people in Kansas are what really makes up her home....However, with the exception of the abridged ending and a couple of performances, Hale's production of The Wizard of Oz is still very charming. With colorful creative elements, it beautifully brings one of the most loved movies ever made to the stage in a vivid production with a superb performance from Pauley as Dorothy and is another success from director/choreographer James." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

For more information on this production, that runs through July 3rd, click here

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