On Stage in Natomas: The Wizard of Oz, Jr.


THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

oz2 oz3 oz4 oz5oz6 oz7The Wizard of Oz, Jr. opened Thursday for a two-week run at the Black Box Theater in Natomas.

First performed as a musical in 1902, the current version of The Wizard of Oz, based on L. Frank Baum’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, is more closely aligned to the 1939 film adaptation starring Judy Garland. This stage version is presented by the Natomas Charter School’s Performing and Fine Arts Academy middle school students.

The familiar faces of the Wicked Witch of the West, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion and Glinda, the beautiful and good witch of the north, are joined by some of the most memorable songs, including “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “If I Only Had a Brain,” “We’re Off to See the Wizard,” “Ding-Dong, the Witch is Dead” and one that was cut from the film version, “The Jitterbug,” which features the dance of the same name.

This production is serious fun, and the cast of 40 comes together to sing, dance and delight audiences of all ages.

Reprising the role of Dorothy made famous by Garland is Avery Hersek, whose acting, dancing and singing skills shine. Her rendition of the signature song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” is stunning.

Dorothy’s nemesis is the Wicked Witch of the West, played by Lydia DeNeccochea. Her movements and that cackle will have you hoping she doesn’t look your way.

Nayzak Wali-Ali’s portrayal of Scarecrow is notable for her agility and ability to perform with her body, reminiscent of physical comic actors like Dick Van Dyke.

Each character presents challenges, and Shane DeGeyter finds his in the stiffness of Tin Man, whose movements are often jerky because he is in need of oiling.

Drevon Dixon’s portrayal of the lion that is afraid of everything is charming. With a head and face full of curls and generating the right amount of timidity, he completes the trio that will accompany Dorothy on her adventure.

Along the road to Oz, the trio encounters flying monkeys, Winkies and jitterbugs.

“The Jitterbug” is a song and dance routine that was one of the most pleasant surprises in this classic tale. It is fun, upbeat and ends just before the intermission.

This is one of several group scenes throughout the production, and the coordination of so many characters moving about the stage and joining together in song must have been a challenge in this theater’s intimate setting, but the space is well-used.

The march of the Winkies, the flight of the monkeys, the tornado that sweeps Dorothy from her home in Kansas and the encounter with the Munchkins are wonderfully portrayed through song and dance and are some of the most memorable scenes in the production.

Other notable scenes include the apple trees that pummel Dorothy and Scarecrow with apples and the final encounter between Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West. There is always something to excite the senses in this lively production.

Even those familiar with the story will ask whether Dorothy and her companions will get in to see the wizard and whether they will be granted their wishes to return home, for a brain, a heart and courage.

Choreographed by Taylor Buck and director Ron Cisneros, this production has already begun its journey along the yellow brick road.

Tickets are available for pre-purchase online at a reduced rate ($8 – $10) or at the box office on the day of the show ($13 – $15) Performances are scheduled at 7 p.m. on March 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15 and at 2 p.m. on March 8 and 15, 2014.

The Black Box Theater is located at 4600 Blackrock Drive, Sacramento, CA 95835. For more information, see www.benarts.org.


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