Monday, April 3, 2017

Review of The House Theatre of Chicago's The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz. It was based on the story by L. Frank Baum. It was by Phillip Klapperich and it was directed by Tommy Rapley. It was about a young woman named Dorothy (Kara Davidson) who was trying to find what she wants to do with her life, gets blown away by a tornado, and meets a lot of new people who become her friends. She also makes some enemies that she will have to defeat to get home. It's about growing up, loss, and building relationships. I think this is a really great show. It will make you laugh; it will make you cry. Altogether, it's an awesome show.

I think that the visual aspects of the show were spectacular! The flying monkeys (Elana Elyce, Ben Hertel, Carlos Olmedo, and Tina Muñoz Pandya) were so awesome to watch and, at the same time, kind of terrifying. They would fly (choreography by Ryan Bourque) over the audience, and it was so cool! I also really liked the costumes (by Mieka van der Ploeg). I especially loved the witches' outfits. The Witch of the West's (Anji White) dress seemed like it was ripped and falling apart but still strangely beautiful, and the gloves were so awesome, and the way she moved her fingers in them added to the creepiness. Also I loved how Glinda (Amanda de la Guardia) looked so regal and the trees on her cape were so cool! Both of the witches had trees on their dresses, which I thought was really awesome. The Wicked Witch's dress looked more like roots, the part that doesn't get seen but does everything for the tree. And that might be the reason she became evil: that she had always been in the shadow of Glinda. I thought the boots Dorothy gets from the Witch of the East were so awesome because they answered a age-old question I always had: "Shouldn't there be blood on those shoes?" And the answer is: "Yes, there should be." It makes Dorothy look like so much more of a badass. I mean, Dorothy was already a badass in this show, but the boots just added to it. I also think that the puppets (designed by Jesse Mooney-Bullock) of the Kalidah, the crows, and the wolves are so cool. They looked like they were made from twine, and you can see the puppeteers inside the Kalidah. It's cool how you can see the actor using the puppet and emoting what the puppet is feeling.

I think that all of the main characters' monologues were so amazing because they really let you see what the characters were thinking. And that just made you love the characters more. I really loved Toto's (Joey Steakley) speech. It was so sweet and after this speech you absolutely adore him. You thought he was cute before, but now that you know what he is thinking, he is a more awesome and developed character. He was saying how much he loved Dorothy and how she rescued him from being killed because that's what they would've done to him if she hadn't adopted him. The Scarecrow's (Christine Mayland Perkins) speech was also really great. It was basically about how she had discovered that the Wizard of Oz (Benjamin Sprunger), the mayor of the munchkin land, and the man who had rescued them from a giant beast using a horn were all the same person. That kind of proves the Scarecrow really does have a brain. I thought that was hilarious because it acknowledged that the same actor was playing all of those parts. I think that's pretty funny. The Lion's (Michael E. Smith) speech almost made me cry. I can't tell you the reason why I was crying. You have to go see the show to find out. He was so upset and feels responsible for what had happened; that was really heartbreaking to watch. One of the speeches was not really a speech: it was a song. The song was sung by the Tin Woodsman (Jeremy Sonkin). It was about how he missed his old life when he could feel love. It was great how he got a band of Munchkins (Elyce, Hertel, Olmedo, and Pandya) to play the music for him. It was awesome.

There were a lot of very sweet and funny moments in this show. After Dorothy had been locked up by the Witch of the West, she got a mysterious phone call which happened to be from the Lion. No one ever knows how he got her number and called her, and I thought that that was absolutely hilarious. She asks him how he got her number, but he just says, "There's no time for questions," which basically avoids the question completely, but that makes it more hilarious. I think my favorite moment, which falls into the sweet moments category, was when the Tin Woodsman was saying goodbye to Dorothy. She says something along the lines of, "You have a heart now." And he says, "What if you're my heart?" And my heart just broke. I am going to have to go see the Wizard to get a new one. I ship Dorothy and the Tin Woodsman so much. Tinorothy for life.

This play is okay for kids, but it is not aimed at kids and some younger kids might get a little freaked out especially if they think they know what the story is going to be like. I think that parents should definitely go on the website and read the parent's guide because kids have different tolerances for sad things and darkness.

People who would like this show are people who like badass boots, actually flying monkeys, and mysterious lion phone calls. I think that people should definitely go and see this show. I think it is so fun, amazing, and dark. I loved it!

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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