‘Wizard of Oz’ brings a talented cast to the Emerald City

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 19, 2016

By Sarah Hallett

Special to the Salisbury Post

Off to see the Wizard? Lucky for you Salisbury theatre-goers, you don’t have to travel very far. Downtown at the Norvell Youth Theatre’s production of “The Wizard of Oz,” everyone can make the trip down the Yellow Brick Road, and enjoy every single step of the way.

Although it’s usually a reviewer’s job to summarize the show, I’d be remiss to waste my allotted 500-odd words in recanting a tale you all know and love, when I could and should be gushing over the talented cast of this singularly interesting production.

Piedmont Players newcomer Graham Harrington brings demure charm and a killer voice to the role of Dorothy Gale. Her rendition of Broadway standard “Over the Rainbow” shows impressive talent that we’re thrilled to have with us in Salisbury.

While I could go on for days about my childish giddiness in regards to Toto, as played by Piedmont Players Box Office Manager Cam Hall’s well-trained pooch Rocket, I’ll suffice to say that a real, live dog was adorable, fun and incredibly entertaining.

In their dual roles as Glinda/Aunt Em and Emerald City Guard/Uncle Henry, Morgan Austin and William Clark shine. Morgan Austin convincingly switches from modest Em to bubbly Glinda without a hint of a stumble. William Clark’s tastefully bumbling Emerald City Guard is just as much fun as the MGM original, if not a little better. His “No way, no how” tickles me greatly.

KeShun Bradley has a physical presence that’s absolutely perfect for the Scarecrow. His dancing and overall movement is fluid and comical. Stellar stuff, KeShun. Corbin Elliott’s Tin Man is lovably tender hearted and costumed beautifully. In fact, the whole show was costumed admirably by Ashley Ward and Eastern Costume Company.

Ryan Albinus’ Cowardly Lion was both a visual treat and beautifully acted, with the perfect amount of scenery chewing and shtick. Of course, what would Oz be without its dubiously magical Wizard and Wicked Witch? Hunter Baynes’ Wizard was just the right amount of charlatan and humbug, and Sara Beth Richard definitely has her cackling down. Both excellent performers.

Rounding out the impressively sized cast are the wonderfully adorable Munchkins, the always-creepy Flying Monkeys, and the talented cast of dancers that make up the citizens of the Emerald City. All in all, it is a cast that really comes together in a great way.

No show would be complete, however, without the masterful stagecraft and effects of Allen Jones, Greer, Sarasota Serulneck and director extraordinaire Reid Leonard. The use of projections to portray the impossible land of Oz is unique and cleverly animated in a colorful and gorgeous way (way to go, Josh Wainright).

Aubrey Barton’s musical direction is spot on, jaunty, and lively. It provides excellent groundwork for Gwen Matthews’ always-marvelous choreography, which really shines in this show. Ladies and gentleman, there’s no way around it, “The Wizard of Oz” is just as magical and fun as you remember. Take your kids, take nieces and nephews, take your whole family. You won’t regret it. No way, no how.

“The Wizard of Oz” plays at the Norvell Theater at 7:30 p.m. Thursday though Saturday with a matinee at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Producing Partners: F&M Bank and Salisbury Community Foundation. Adults $12, Students/Seniors $10. For tickets call 704-633-5471 or purchase tickets online at PiedmontPlayers.com.

Sarah Hallett is a recent graduate of Jesse C. Carson High School. This fall she will enroll at Salem College in Winston-Salem.