The Pumpkin Theatre puts a special spin on the classic American fairy tale with its production of DOROTHY AND THE WIZARD OF OZ. In keeping with the goal of interactive theater, the children in the audience become an integral part of the story when they are asked to play the munchkins who help Dorothy and her friends find their way to the wizard.
Director Raine Bode takes us on a thoroughly enjoyable journey with a cast that sparkles with energy and chemistry. Good Witch Glinda , played effervescently by Courtney Proctor, is the Martha Stewart of Oz, perfect in every way except for occasional outbursts of temper. Her nemesis, the Wicked Witch of the West (Valarie Perez-Schere) is fancifully frightening. Enter Dorothy , a bright and fearless Clare Peyton.
Along the way to the Emerald City, she meets the irrepressible Scarecrow (Kelsey Painter), the super sensitive Tin Man (Derek Cooper), and the lovable Cowardly Lion (B Thomas Rinaldi). All three would have done an MGM casting agent proud. Painter engages the kids as she bounds across the stage and then requires re-stuffing by helpful munchkins. Cooper nearly steals the show with soap-opera worthy sobbing fits. Rinaldi is blustery and very funny as he keeps meeting up with his tail and trying to run away from it. Bobby Harris amiably plays the less than powerful wizard who is updated from turn-of-the-century conman in a satin suit to hapless gamer who looks like he just rolled out of bed into Oz.
Like their peers, the two little girls behind me clearly took the story to heart. One zestfully giving contrary answers which proved to be entertaining in and of itself and definitely in keeping with Dorothy's strength of character. Her younger sister was quite sure it was real and was truly frightened when the Cowardly Lion bounded up our aisle. But he was quick to reassure her that he was a friendly lion.
The story springs to life with help from the creative collective of costume designer Kendra Shaupanus, set designer Ryan Michael Haase, and lighting designer Adrienne Geiszl. In every aspect, this is an excellent example of what the Pumpkin Theatre is all about and why it has entranced children for 45 years who will undoubtedly be bringing their own children to see the same theatrical magic 45 years from now.
DOROTHY AND THE WIZARD OF OZ plays Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24 at at 1 and 3pm at St. Timothy's School, 8400 Greenspring Ave., Stevenson. Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at 410-828-1814 or by going online.