The Wizard of Oz by Carousel Theatre (review)

Christmas is the perfect time to revisit childhood memories. For someone who lives far from home, like me, these occasions come few and far in between, but I cherish every time I have an occasion to hear, or taste, or feel a little bit of home.

Being invited to the performance of The Wizard of Oz by Carousel Theatre was one such occasion. As a child, I was obsessed with the movie: I wore a Glinda costume for Halloween quite a few times and I just watched it over and over again. It’s probably one of my favourite childhood stories.

Carousel Theatre put together a wonderful production of Oz that’s faithful to the movie but also holds its own with contemporary tidbits (The Lion King anyone?) inserted in the dialogue. Carousel’s Oz was a pleasure from beginning to end, for adults as well as for kids.

Photo by Tim Matheson. Used with permission.

The story is the classic story everyone knows, minus a few scenes to make it manageable on stage. Scenes like the Munchkins and the flying wicked witch on the broomstick were ingeniously managed. The set was minimal but perfectly evocative of every space in the story, using excellent lighting and video projection. The costumes were well done, colorful and also very ingenious given the small means of a youth theatre company.

The actors were also all talented singers and dancers; Robyn Wallis was a wonderfully innocent, friendly and wise Dorothy. You couldn’t but feel for her and Toto throughout her adventure. Darren Burkett, Josue Laboucane and Mike Stack as Scarecrow, the Lion and the Tinman respectively were right on their characters. The four of them had that rare kind of chemistry that you only see in the best plays and movies.

Photo by Tim Matheson. Used with permission.

But the best part about this version of Oz? The children laughing and ooohing and aaaahing at the show. I go to too many adult plays where people are trying to be as quiet as possible. It was simply wonderful and moving to hear all the children react to the events of the play as children do–honestly and from the heart. I myself felt like falling back into childhood, grinning, laughing and even crying sometimes (yes, I’m a mush, I know).

The show is basically sold out for the next few weeks (spaces are still available in late December), so call ahead or make an online reservation. You don’t have to be with kids (or have any) to enjoy this amazing show–you just have to be a kid at heart.

Disclaimer (sorry for lateness, been a long week!): I was offered a complimentary pair of tickets by Carousel Theatre for their first “blogger night”. Jessie van Rijn (the general manager for Carousel) made it clear that no post, review or even tweet were expected from the bloggers. The choice to write and the opinions are my own.

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