Wednesday, November 25, 2015

reviews - THE WIZARD OF OZ - Phoenix Theatre

Ryan Kleinman, Carly Nicole Grossman, Toby Yatso and Robert Kolby Harper surrounded by the Cast
Photo by Erin Evangeline Photography

highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through December 27th.

...sparkling new holiday production of The Wizard of Oz, ...that sticks closely to the beloved 1939 film..bursts on the Phoenix stage with an unstoppable energy, chockablock with creative ideas and theatrical inventions that engages even before that famous twister hits Kansas....director Michael Barnard keeps things disciplined and inventively lively as crows dance with scarecrows, bug-eyed talking trees accompany a singing Tin Man, flying monkeys swoop from above and a faux wizard floats off in a balloon basket before Dorothy has a chance to climb aboard.... Rusty Ferracane’s man behind the curtain injects more life and energy in his all-too brief scenes than even the original wizard, Frank Morgan, and while some may consider Toto the cute scene-stealer, it’s Carly Nicole Grossman as Dorothy who truly excels.....playing Dorothy gives Carly a chance to fully display all the promises and potential previously seen but never fully embraced.  Earlier this March, as Eponine in ABT’s Les Miserables, Carly grabbed her opportunity to shine, but here as Dorothy you can safely say that it’s no longer a case of holding her own when performing alongside talented seasoned professionals such as Yatso, Ferracane and Kolby Harper; she surpasses.  Carly holds this epic musical production together; she has never been better, and for an eighteen year-old who many may be seeing on stage for the first time, that’s quite astonishing. " -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"The enduring popularity of The Wizard of Oz is apparent from the fact that there have been a half dozen different stage productions of this family-friendly classic musical in the Phoenix area just in the past six months. However, the best production of the group is the latest, an eye-popping, colorful, and magnificent production from Phoenix Theatre that features a lovely performance by young, local actress Carly Nicole Grossman as Dorothy....Director Michael Barnard has assembled a very good cast composed of many Phoenix Theatre favorites who are all gifted in paying homage to these familiar characters from the film, yet at the same time adding nuances and layers so they aren't just carbon copy reproductions. As Dorothy, 18-year-old Carley Nicole Grossman exhibits a wide range of emotions. Her smart acting choices provide an emotional connection for the slightly self-centered and misunderstood yet endearing young girl. Grossman's powerful, clear voice excels on her many songs, including a sensational version of "Over the Rainbow."...As the three men Dorothy meets on her journey, Robert Kolby Harper is hilarious as the Cowardly Lion, playing up the "dandy" part very well; Toby Yatso is endearing and sweet as Scarecrow, with confused looks and statements that are just right for a man with no brain; and Ryan Kleinman uses a soft spoken nature and strong, clear singing voice to instill the Tin Man with plenty of heart. ...Michael Barnard's direction adds plenty of original touches but allows fans of the film to experience the familiar, well-loved moments from the movie as well...Choreographer Nathaniel Shaw provides some fun staging but it is the non-stop frenzy of "The Jitterbug" that shows off how skilled he is, elevating this number into a huge crowd pleaser. Only the tornado sequence, with the ensemble members dancing and jumping around with long pieces of cloth to signify the raging storm, is a bit of a disappointment. Creative elements are, as usual at Phoenix Theatre, exceptional. ...Whether you've seen the film one time or a hundred times, the story of Dorothy and her journey to Oz is still thrilling, touching and extremely heartwarming. With a very talented cast, impressive creative elements, and exceptional choreography and direction, Phoenix Theatre's production of The Wizard of Oz is just about perfect. Fans of the film should enjoy the creative touches that bring the story to life on stage while also appreciating the added elements that allow it to not just be a carbon copy creation of the film."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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