When I first heard Little Tomato Children’s Theatre was going to tackle The Wizard of Oz, my heart dropped and I felt a bit like the tin man. The Wizard of Oz is one of the most timeless motion pictures in history and it’s also my favourite story.
Was I going to trust the greatest musical of all time to the Little Tomatoes? Could a group of young thespians really capture the essence of the story and keep it entertaining for more than two hours? Could they? Would they? Should they?
You bet your sweet horse of a different colour they could, would and should. Not only was The Wizard of Oz a great show, it was my favourite production of the year so far. With grand costumes, incredibly creative staging, plenty of lights and a chorus of background singers adding a bit of pizzazz to the whole show, the Little Tomatoes proved they could pull off a giant production like this – and make it look easy.
Morgan Pannunzio was simply adorable as Dorothy. She looked the part and sang it with a charm similar to that of movie star Judy Garland. Luckily, she didn’t have to worry about costume changes because she was pretty much on stage the entire show – she wore the blue dress and ruby slippers with pride and passion.
Dorothy’s friends were a hoot too. Melina Smiciklas was a fun Scarecrow with a shocking amount of flexibility. At times, it looked like her legs were wobbling as much as Ray Bolger’s did in the movie. She did a great job. Jessica Chalmers was a “solid” tin man, as shiny and silver as could be; while Larissa Porteous added a burst of comedic life to the Cowardly Lion that wasn’t in the movie. Her costume was super cute.
Emma McDonald was very pretty in her gorgeous gown as Glinda, while Elise Holbrook pulled off an entertaining Wicked Witch, complete with vexatious screams and howls.
The rest of the cast (and it was a big one) did a wonderful job – Dorothy’s family and helpful farmhands, plenty of Munchkins (with members of the Lullaby League and Lollipop Guild), a gang of grumpy trees, a flock of annoying crows, Winkies, Monkeys, Ozians, a cast of Beauticians, some Emerald City Guards, some very pretty Poppies and Snowflakes and a group of dancing Jitterbugs.
Migration Hall felt a lot like Oz this past weekend and it was certainly worth the tornado ride to get there. Congratulations to director Ruth Brown, musical director Nola McQueen, choreographer Billie Stapleton, costume designer Karen Wilson and their group of production wizards. It’s was Oz-some.
Photo from Little Tomato Children’s Theatre Facebook page.