Summer Garden takes on Baum classic 'Wizard of Oz' production doesn't offer as much fun as original story

August 01, 1996|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

And how goes the Annapolis Summer Garden's production of "The Wizard of Oz," which will be playing at the hospitable outdoor theater across from the City Dock Thursday through Sunday evenings until Aug. 31?

Well, it doesn't have Toto, flying monkeys or sleep-inducing poppies, which I can live without. And it has a vapid, ineffectual tornado sequence, which I could make do with.

But it is utterly devoid of the sense of magical fun that should pervade every second of the Frank L. Baum classic. And that, I simply cannot be without.

What has happened here is that Summer Garden has stripped the show of so much of its inherent joy that Dorothy's odyssey down the yellow brick road becomes a laborious journey.

Only three featured players seem to be having fun.

Kevin Wheatley is a funny, daffy Cowardly Lion. But in a desperate attempt to right a sinking ship, he sometimes tries to do too much.

Carrie Lama is suitably green and awful as the Wicked Witch. Her meltdown is cleverly handled by the special-effects crew.

And, bless her heart, little Ashley Adkins is chipper, cute and thoroughly professional as the Mayor of Munchkinland.

Elsewhere, though, the ho-ho-hos are ho-hum.

Jessica Cohen of Key School, a lovely young woman, sings well. But her Dorothy lacks sparkle and charm. Without that, the Land of Oz quickly becomes the Land of Nod.

The nimble Jeremy Corwin moves stylishly as the scarecrow, but his characterization goes slack because of no facial energy. Overdo it, young man. Smile. Go for a laugh when the opportunity presents itself.

Jim Raistrick seems politely disengaged as the Tinman whileCeil Ambrosetti smiles beatifically but is way too stiff as Glinda, the friendly witch.

Pacing problems abound in the show. Admittedly, the constipated tempos of the recorded backup music can't be blamed on the cast, but the recurring lapses of energy can. Dorothy's scene in the witch's castle,for example, has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese.

Choreography? Compared to the cast of Talent Machine's recent production of "Crazy For You," these folks are standing still.

Pub Date: 8/01/96

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