Kids Who Care's production of the musical The Wizard of Oz is filled with everything you'd want in this show: wow-worthy scenic design by Beth Moore (were those sumptiously painted backdrops rented, one assumes?), clever costumes by Colleen Power and gorgeous lighting by Chad R. Jung. Not to mention terrific performances all around, from the adults playing, well, the adults, to the teens and children as Munchkins, Flying Monkeys, Poppies and such.
And it has an extra special ingredient that you don't often find in revivals of a show for which directors usually just want to evoke the admittedly unforgettable movie: creative ingenuity. There's such a spark of imagination that, as I attended a daytime performance for summer camp kids, I heard a Pre-K girl behind me shout out "how did they do that?"
She was talking about the tornado scene. Here, the performers manipulate such objects as a picket fence and the doorway where director Deborah Jung positions Dorothy (a delightful Taylor O'Toole) and her little dog, too (Bella Reale is adorable as Toto), to cause confusion and land our hero in the magical land of Oz.
Simple, creative and effective.
The kids loved the performances of Major Attaway as the Cowardly Lion, Ehleshea Woodruff as Glinda and Lindy Benton-Muller as the green-faced villain (as did I). And they loved the inspiration of having a young dancer, Mya Bryant, playing the Yellow Brick Road in a yellow costume blocked off with bricks. She made the trip by Dorothy, the Lion, Scarecrow (Matthew Brandon) and Tinman (Tyler Krieg) as the follow her to see the Wizard (Michael Muller) extra fun.
If you think you can't take yet another performance if this much-loved but oft-revived story, think again. The acting and singing may not always be at the level of the big professional theaters, but Kids Who Care's staging is by far more enjoyable than any of them I've seen.