July 24, 2008


   Home Page

 News & Features


 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note





 Pop Culture



   Video Games
   CD Reviews







   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts






   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad




 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

 Past Issues

   Browse by Cover

Review: The great outdoors
The Wizard of Oz lands in a Manchester park
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

For some reason, I don’t recall The Wizard of Oz seeming quite so demented.

Yet both the 1939 film and the stage version, which New Thalian is producing for free admission in Veteran’s Park in Manchester for another weekend, can be rather morbid at times. The story opens with a neighbor who wants to kill a little girl’s dog. Then there are those happy Munchkins rejoicing about a dead witch. The story of how the Tin Man came to be made of tin is just messed up. Maybe that was normal for a children’s fantasy in 1900 when the L. Frank Baum book was published.

There was a pretty decent crowd for New Thalian’s show Saturday, July 19, considering thunderstorm warnings and a downpour that afternoon. The mosquito factor wasn’t even bad.

New Thalian took many cues from the movie. Their audition notice had pointed out that they were using the Royal Shakespeare Company script, which is similar to the film’s. It makes sense with something as ingrained as The Wizard of Oz to either reference the much-loved classic movie or make a complete departure as in The Wiz or Wicked.

Alyssa Dumas as Dorothy in particular kept the tribute going by using Judy Garland’s speech style for the character. It was almost uncanny. New Thalian even included an off-stage chorus for those non-verbal melodies in the score.

Clearly, a stage version has to have some differences when it comes to scenery and effects. And those things stood out, particularly considering this was a community production on an outdoor stage.

Once the sun set, the audience could see the full effect of the Oz set, effects and lighting. There was a giant “O” and “Z” back drop, and a kind of cyclorama behind it glowed pink and blue creating a silhouette from the letters and then lighting went green everywhere to signify arrival in the Emerald City.

The “O” was used for visions and the entrance and exit of witches. The circle seemed to be standing in for spheres used in the movie such as the bubble Glinda arrives in and a crystal ball.

When the travelers visit the Wizard, a giant mask with glowing eyeballs is hung on the “O,” “Z.” It glows green and has a mechanical or puppet mouth. New Thalian used fog machines and lighting and sound to complete the scene. Kevin Roberge was the scenic designer.

The first storm scene involved colorguard flags, fog and people dancing in scenery which made for a creative way to switch to Munchkinland when there is no curtain or wings. The sky was dark for the last tornado scene when Dorothy goes home, which made lighting effects really stand out, and the scene overall was impressive.

Special effects even included stage snow for the poppies scene. Costumes were detailed, particularly those of the flying monkeys. Maggie Mahony was the costumer.

The actors all held their own, in particular Jason Crowell as Professor Marvel, Rachel Scott as Auntie Em and Glinda, and Corey Sulzen, Paul Lussier and Allan McPherson as Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion. Rachel Cerullo had the movement and mannerisms of the Wicked Witch down.

The living apple tree scene was stellar, as was a complex jitterbug dance number. The live orchestra sounded like they were having a good time with the Big Band sound.

For lack of little people, kids play the Munchkins and did a mighty good job. In fact, people sitting on either side of me remarked such while sounding both surprised and impressed. The youngsters actually knew their parts independently. When they came on stage, it seemed like a strong possibility that a bunch of kids would be trying to follow Glinda in a dance, but that wasn’t the case at all. They exuded personality and confidence and knew what they were supposed to be doing.

Throughout the performance, Dorothy is carrying Toto, and the dog in this role behaved like an absolute champ.

The thing about seeing a show outdoors is that the audience doesn’t always sit still. Kids run around. People are not silent. There are always customers at the food truck. (An ice cream truck eventually showed.) A patient dog slept in the audience. There are planes, fireworks, motorcycles and sirens. But the cast didn’t seem daunted.

The Wizard of Oz has two more shows scheduled for Friday, July 25, and Saturday, July 26, at 8 p.m. If you plan to go, head to the park at Elm and Central streets early with your lawn chair to get a spot closer to the stage, particularly if you are nearsighted. New Thalian usually has pre-show entertainment arranged to keep the audience occupied. Perhaps bring rain gear, because it seems to take a lot for New Thalian to postpone a show. If they do, the rain date is Sunday, July 27.

Daniel Barth directs, with MaryEllen Stafford as the assistant director. Henry Kopczynskie was the music director. Jessica Scalese choreographed.

7/17/2008 Curtain calls

7/10/2008 Musical monsters
7/3/2008 Curtain calls
6/26/2008 Curtain calls
6/19/2008 Summer stock
6/12/2008 Curtain calls
6/5/2008 This one time, at drama camp...
5/29/2008 Curtain calls
5/22/2008 Making it big
5/15/2008 Curtain calls
5/8/2008 Curtain calls
5/1/2008 Forging ahead
4/24/2008 The Bard, condensed
4/17/2008 'Balance' in Bedford
4/10/2008 Curtain calls
4/3/2008 Singing for a cause
3/27/2008 These aren't recitals folks
3/20/2008 Albee at MRT
3/13/2008 Murder and rhinos
3/6/2008 Murder and rhinos
2/28/2008 The art of theater criticism
2/21/2008 Breaking the cycle
2/14/2008 Curtain Calls
2/7/2008 NH Theatre awards sixth year
1/31/2008 Elvis fans and ghost stories
1/24/2008 Building an audience
1/17/2008 Curtain Calls
1/10/2008 Fate of Annicchiarico
1/3/2008 A little confidence
12/27/2007 Stage notables in 2007
12/20/2007 If all they want for Christmas is two good seats ...
12/13/2007 Summer stock vs. southern NH
12/06/2007 Curtain Calls
11/29/2007 Curtain Calls
11/22/2007 Broadway composer and actress hit Granite State
11/15/2007 One-man play turns audience into students
11/8/2007 Curtain calls
11/1/2007 First times
10/25/2007 Curtain Calls
10/18/2007 Curtain Calls
10/11/2007 American History
10/04/2007 Active in the community
9/27/2007 Stringing single
9/20/2007 Curtain Calls
9/13/2007 Free range
9/6/2007 Curtain Calls
8/30/2007 Curtain Calls
8/23/2007 Curtain Calls
8/16/2007 Curtain Calls
8/9/2007 Curtain Calls
8/2/2007 That deaf, dumb and blind kid
7/26/2007 Potty humor
7/19/2007 Ease on down the road
7/12/2007 Jekyll vs. Hyde
7/5/2007 If it's free, it's for me
6/28/2007 Transformations
6/21/2007 Curtain calls
6/14/2007 No really, you'll get it
6/7/2007 Curtain calls
5/31/2007 Curtain calls
5/24/2007 Putting the camp in camp
5/17/2007 Curtain Calls
5/10/2007 Curtain Calls
5/3/2007 Curtain Calls
4/26/2007 Still going strong
4/19/2007 Vietnam the the Palace
4/12/2007 Confluence
4/5/2007 First look
3/29/2007 Reluctant star
3/15/2007 In a town far away
3/8/2007 Curtain calls
3/1/2007 Into the future
2/22/2007 But will it play in New Hampshire
2/15/2007 Curtain calls
2/8/2007 Family affair
2/1/2007 Curtain calls
1/25/2007 Curtain calls
1/18/2007 Curtain calls
1/11/2007 Curtain calls
1/4/2007 Fork in the road
12/28/2006 Standout performances of '06
12/21/2006 Curtain Calls
12/14/2006 Players remember Peter Bridges
12/07/2006 Young talent
11/30/2006 Lighthearted farce for the holidays
11/23/2006 Curtain Calls
11/16/2006 Good theater
11/9/2006 Preview roundup
11/2/2006 Access to the ancients
10/26/2006 Aida on a Nashua stage
10/19/2006 Children of a Lesser God brilliantly played
10/12/2006 A true love triangle
10/05/2006 Curtain Calls
09/28/2006 Bringing people back to life
09/21/2006 Getting judged
09/14/2006 Long strange journey
09/07/2006 Curtain Calls
08/31/2006 Curtain Calls
08/24/2006 Putting kids in charge
08/17/2006 Curtain Calls
08/10/2006 All theater, all summer
08/03/2006 A Jesus musical, reworked
07/27/2006 A match made in Maine
07/20/2006 Variations on a theme
07/13/2006 I Hate Hamlet
07/06/2006 Serious theater
06/29/2006 L.A. in Peterborough
06/22/2006 Da Vinci to Rube Goldberg
06/15/2006 Peter Bridges remembered
06/08/2006 From Hairspray to monkeys
06/01/2006 Special Theatrics
05/25/2006 Live Brit-com
05/18/2006 Evil stepsisters earn the yuks
05/11/2006 A message to mom
05/04/2006 Meet the cast
04/27/2006 'I hope i get it'
04/20/2006 Find yourself in Yonkers
04/13/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
04/06/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
03/30/2006 Cabaret is Mnchester bound
03/23/2006 A 42nd Street detour
03/16/2006 Actor-director wants your ideas
02/23/2006 Yellow Taxi's Theater Festival opens March 1
02/16/2006 Herding CATS
02/09/2006 An actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
01/19/2006 Gearing up for the big night
01/12/2006 This Phantom is not a menace
01/05/2006 Jim Kelly, sci-fi writer and alternate historian
10th anniversary at Capitol Center
10 Ways To Survive The Audition
A Chorus Line
A Figaro Worth Cheering
A 'Living Newspaper' on stage
A tale of two wives
A Tribute To Music
Actorsingers Deliver On Superstar
Beauty and the Beast
Bedford Off-Broadway Gets Spooky
Being The Beatles, 1964 The Tribute
Bringing NYC to Wilton
Creating the venue from antiques
Crimes Of The Heart
Curtain to rise on Dana Center
Dana Center Takes Center Stage
Ensemble elevates Palace’s Godspell
From stage to the silver screen
Great play, too bad it’s over
Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
It’s cabaret, hear it sing, joke, tease
It's Child's Play
Jesus Christ Superstar
Kids Tackle Edgar Allan Poe
Local boy hits the big time, doesn’t lose his head
Lowell theater opens with a winner of a satire
Madco welcomes Boston actor-director
Meet John Sefel, Director
Meet Suzanne Delle, Yellow Taxi’s driver
Music Man to run three weekends
New Thalian Players
Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Players’ Solidarity is solid gold
Plaid (II)
Playing with man’s best friend
Proud of the Peacock
Racy, crazy blast at the Palace
Reviving His Passion
Robert Dionne, The man behind the Majestic
Rosemary Dann
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know
Short-Attention Span Theater
Side Show
Sideshow slips sideways
Spending The Summer On Stage
Stages of learning
Steel Magnolias
Suessical: The Musical
Theater Of The Imagination
Theater Kids Without A School
Theater in the park draws big
The Drawer Boy
The Festival
The Five best shows of 2005
The Prisoner Of Second Avenue
The Russian/American Kids Circus
The Senator Wore Pantyhose
The Tony Awards, they're grrrrreat
The Warmth Of The Cold
Three nights, three shows at the Palace

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to ‘night Mother