Energetic `Wiz' wows audiences

Theater: Students at Glenelg Country School stage a high-powered version of a classic.

Review

March 11, 2004|By Alborz Ghandehari | Alborz Ghandehari,CENTENNIAL HIGH SCHOOL

Brains, courage, heart, home and friendship. What more can you ask for in a night of exceptional story-telling?

Glenelg Country School's The Wiz, a rock-and-roll rendition of L. Frank Baum's timeless classic, showcased Charlie Small's fun-filled music and some of the best young talent Howard County has to offer. The production left audiences astounded.

The curtain opens on a farm in Kansas where Dorothy, a young, buoyant girl, is being consoled by her aunt when they are suddenly separated by a raging tornado. Dorothy is thrown into the magical Land of Oz, where she encounters cynical munchkins, sassy witches, a brainless scarecrow, a heartless tin man, a cowardly lion and a fake wizard.

As Dorothy tries to return home, the audience follows the characters through an adventurous journey down the Yellow Brick Road, experiencing the true meaning of friendship along the way through memorable numbers like "Be A Lion" and "Home."

The talent and experience that the actors devoted to the performance was phenomenal. Jay Frisby performed exceptionally well as the Lion. Frisby added flair to the character and was able to put himself in the shoes of this wannabe-king-of-the-jungle.

Sarah Branzelle (Dorothy) also left the audience awe-struck as she performed her numbers with raw, genuine emotion. Other vocalists in the show include Tina Mateo (Glinda) whose classic soprano was breath-taking. Also, the core dancers of the production are deserving of recognition for their skilled and eye-catching performances as the Tornado and Yellow Brick Road. Though ensemble unity was a problem at times, the production showcased immense talent.

Much effort was also dedicated to the technical aspects of the production. The makeup, designed by a student team led by Anastasia Pasmanik, was among the best I have seen, perhaps comparable to professional theater. Costumes were also well-chosen, including Glinda's meticulously designed ballroom gown and headpiece.

The art direction was remarkably creative and enhanced the show's atmosphere. The set's rainbow panels, stairs and photographic backdrop left little with which the characters could physically interact; however, this did not detract from the overall feel of the show. Despite numerous sound difficulties, the show's technical components made it a dazzling spectacle.

Bravo to this stunning high school production, which was a must-see for theater-lovers. As Dorothy sings at the end of the show, "We must look inside our hearts to find a world full of love."

Open your heart to that world in The Wiz!

Alborz Ghandehari reviewed "The Wiz" for the Baltimore Cappies, a program in which high school students review student productions and vote on annual awards for outstanding performances. Glenelg Country School presented "The Wiz" from March 4-6.

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