director is 17-year-old Ryan Mekenian, who brings a fresh outlook to
probably the most familiar story of them all. While using a script
virtually mirroring the 1939 movie, Mekenian has spiced it with some
occasional creativity in the dialogue that dispels the warmed-over
This may be a children's show, but there's no skimping on costumes
or scenery. The large flats representing Kansas, Munchkin Land and Oz
are immaculately designed (by John and Shawn Irvin and Mike Safran)
and also include a sprawling yellow brick road. The costumes of Amy
Powell and Cathy Graham -- especially those of Dorothy's companions
on her journey -- are excellent representations of these most
familiar of fictional characters.
Among the young cast members -- many of whom attend the Orange
County High School of the Performing Arts -- there are some notable
individual performances, beginning with Jenna Pinkham's wide-eyed
Dorothy (she alternates with Jennie Geoffroy). Pinkham brings a
strong, assured vocal quality to the show's signature number, "Over
the Rainbow," and delivers a convincing portrayal.
Of the other three Emerald City-bound travelers, Joseph Anderson
(alternating with Nicholas Borango) most impresses as the Scarecrow,
whose rubber-limbed antics are reminiscent of the movie's Ray Bolger
and who exhibits a polished sense of comic timing.
Zach Irvin's Tin Man also is quite authentic as he bemoans his
absence of a heart, and he has a monopoly on this character.
Cody Gummerman (sharing the role with Kyle Wolting) displays a
comically regal air as the cowardly Lion, strutting through his
extended "If I Only Had the Nerve" number and amplifying the fear
factor of these pilgrims on a dangerous journey.
Emily Horowitz eschews the traditional cackle of the Wicked Witch
of the West for a more stealthy, ominous approach. She shares the
green-hued character with Nichole Hayes.
One departure from traditional stagings (as well as the movie
version) comes in the character of Toto, Dorothy's dog, who's
portrayed by 10-year-old Alexa Safran in a furry suit. Since
10-year-olds generally are easier to direct than canines, this Toto