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Youmans: This 'Wizard' is full of innovation

October 20, 2011|By Heather Youmans
  • 3-D Theatricals presents "The Wizard of Oz" at the historical Plummer Theatre in Fullerton.
3-D Theatricals presents "The Wizard of Oz"… (Coastline Pilot )

3-D Theatricals is taking a trip down the yellow brick road. Along the way, the theater production company has implemented modern twists transforming the typical two-dimensional "The Wizard of Oz" into a three-dimensional manifestation of lions, tigers, and bears.

In the theater world, there are certain overdone productions that carry a stigma. "The Wizard of Oz" is among them.

With this in mind I hesitantly took my seat, fearing that I would experience yet another clichéd jaunt to the Emerald City. However, after the first act finale, I was pleasantly surprised by the production's innovation and artistry.

"The Wizard of Oz" — based on the 1939 MGM movie starring Judy Garland— follows Dorothy Gail on a whimsical adventure down the yellow brick road.

Although Melinda Koen's vocal execution of the famous "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was impeccable, the majority of Dorothy's songs missed the sweet spot in Koen's range. It wasn't until later in Act One, when she shined in true soprano moments, that this incongruity became evident.

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This was not the only mismatch in the production, which opened Oct. 14 and runs through Oct. 30 at the Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton. At times, Koen was missing that youthful light in her eyes that most audiences associate with the meek and callow Dorothy. As a result, Koen appeared too mature for the role, but overall, she gave a fine performance.

Tamara Zook, undoubtedly a stellar actress, rightfully carried the show as a fierce Wicked Witch of the West. There was a certain fire in Zook's eyes, and I don't mean the demonic, red eyeliner.

Diane Vincent's Glinda resembled a bubbly Bernadette Peters, which starkly contrasted her dry, realistic Aunt Em. In Munchkinland, the good witch of the North was followed by an overwhelming parade of cuteness featuring local youth performers with skill and professionalism beyond their years. Surely, the future looks bright for the next generation of Orange Country theatrical talent.

Young actor D.J. Price came pretty close to stealing Toto's thunder with his quirky portrayal of Nikko, the flying monkey, which had adults and children in stitches.

The innovative approaches and unpredictable comedic moments set this production apart from the rest.

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