After a whirlwind weekend in Oz, I'm left with one indelible image: a tiny four-year-old girl dressed from head to her ruby-slippered toes as Dorothy. Her joy, and that of the 30 or 40 children in attendance on opening night of "The Wizard of Oz," makes me ponder if a review is even necessary.
In the final moments of intermission, mom and mini-Dorothy were buying snacks. The Tin Man (Ricky Jones) was preparing to make his entrance from the back of the theater. The orchestra, lead by Steven Dascoulias, had just begun the entr'acte. Then came the line of the weekend. Mini-Dorothy (who barely came up to Jones' knees) exclaimed "It's starting Tin Man, its starting!" Between the Munchkins, an amazing little dog (Frederick) that practically steals the show, and all the mesmerized children in the audience, it may as well have been the Wizard of Awws.
There are a few missteps by actors, the technical aspects are not perfect, and the production is a bit too long, but Alexis Dascoulias' "Oz," like the Wizard himself, is wonderful.
Marissa Godinez as Dorothy and Lisa Paulson as Glinda shine in the Maui OnStage production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
JACK GRACE photo
Marissa Godinez as Dorothy adds a level of method acting to Dorothy's plight. Godinez does a fine job with her first song, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but I much preferred her tearful reprise late in the second act while held captive by the Wicked Witch (Rochelle Dunning). In addition to Godinez, Dorothy's trio of cohorts and the Munchkinland scene allows the audience to forget about the movie and embrace this Maui cast.
There were several moments when the crowd burst into applause but none more so than the Munchkin medley of "Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead," "Lullaby League," "Lollipop Guild" and "We're Off to See the Wizard," performed by Lucas Engh, Gabriel Frampton, Lilly Janneck, Brandi Kamalani, Jaeden Lagattuta, Keile Kepler, Luna Milligan, Aiyana Alford-Grimes, Carver Glomb, Pua Kepler, Beckham Westphal, Maile Kepler and Kaya Glomb.
Chris Kepler's Scarecrow is also a crowd favorite and Chino La Forge as the Cowardly Lion gets the most laughs, but my personal favorite performance was Ricky Jones as the Tin Man. Jones was able to create his own Tin Man, both unique and endearing. He also finds new laughs offering an almost facetious twist on the well-worn lines. Another favorite was Dean Watt, doubling as both Uncle Henry and an Emerald City guard, particularly as the later. Watt delivers a Monty Python-inspired interpretation to the role reminiscent of Terry Jones.
Although "Oz" is not "Chicago," choreographer Erin Kowalick presents some lively choreographed moments, particularly in a tap break during "Merry Old Land of Oz," featuring Dale Button, Hadley Garcia and herself. The show's finest moment was "The Jitterbug," a large-scale song and dance number that ended up on the MGM cutting room floor.
Of course it wouldn't be Oz without the Witches. Lisa Paulson's is so spot on, that I can't imagine anyone else on Maui getting the humor correct. Rochelle Dunning's Wicked Witch is the exact right amount of scary and funny -frightening enough to hear one or two kids scream and cry, but no so intense that mom needs to take the child out of the theater. Maui OnStage's "Oz" is a fun-filled, G-rated musical for the entire family. When you toss in the special effects rarely attempted on Maui, (courtesy of set designer, Greg Mitchell) it looks like Maui OnStage has another hit musical that will likely pack the Historic Iao Theater over the coming weeks.
* Maui OnStage's "The Wizard of Oz" continues though Dec. 9, with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m., with a special family discount night at 6 p.m. on Sunday. Reserved seating is available; cost is $17 to $28. For tickets or more information, call 242-6969 or visit www.mauionstage.com.
Power Up Comedy presents Oahu comedians Jonny Sparkles and James Mane in "Guys With Issues" at 10 p.m. Friday at Stella Blues Cafe in Kihei. Sparkles has performed with Andy Bumatai and Tommy Davidson. Mane is the creator and owner of Mars Comedy, and has worked with Bumatai and Steve-O. Hosting the show will be Maui's Sunny Dennis along with Power Up Comedy's Jason Strahn and Becky Doughty. Tickets are $15 at the door or $10 online, available at www.powerupcomedy.com.
Art with Heart, a student-run philanthropy club at Seabury Hall, directed by club members Ariella Brandon and Mackenzie Tezak, will hold its third art fundraiser, "Transitions," at 5:30 p.m. on Friday in the A'ali'ikuhonua Creative Arts Center. The evening will begin with a gallery showing of paintings, photographs, drawings and designs created by Art with Heart visual artists, followed by live music, dance performances and poetry readings at 7 p.m.
The original art will be sold during a silent auction, and all proceeds will assist the club's mission to provide clean water and other critical services in third world countries. Art with Heart raised a total of $8,456 during two benefit shows last year which was donated to the Build Africa development charity. This year they have pledged to raise $10,000 to assist in improvements at an impoverished school in Nicaragua, as well as a day care program in Peru.
"Come bask in the talent of young artists of Maui, and help them make a difference in their world," Brandon said.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Admission is free for children 5 and younger. Tickets are available at the door or in advance by calling the Seabury Hall Box Office at 573-1257 or online at www.seaburyhall.org.
ProArts presents "Smokey Joe's Cafe," featuring the hits of Lieber and Stoller, from Dec. 7 to 23 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. The revue features some of the most beloved songs in American history including "On Broadway," "Kansas City," "There Goes My Baby," "Love Potion #9," "Hound Dog," "Stand By Me," and many others. Directed and choreographed by Aly Cardinalli and starring Felicia Chernicki, Kate Comstock, Katerina B. Dominguez, Justin House, Julie Kawamura, Trevor Natividad, Coren Paschoal-Yamauchi and Cardinalli.
Reserved seats cost $25 for adults with $22.50 kama'aina discount nights (with valid Hawaii identification) on Dec. 8, 13 and 20. For reservations or more information, call 463-6550 or visit www.proartspacific.com.
This holiday season, Maui audiences are in for a sweet treat when Maui Academy of Performing Arts presents "Nutcracker Sweets," a delightful, family-friendly adaptation of the treasured holiday classic featuring 150
MAPA dancers and alumni. Whether you are introducing a child to the magic of this story for the first time or honoring an annual tradition of seeing the beloved ballet for the umpteenth time, stunning costumes and beautiful choreography set to the timeless Tchaikovsky score will dazzle audiences of all ages.
A perfect holiday gift for the whole family, "Nutcracker Sweets" plays one day only on Dec. 8 in the MACC's Castle Theater. Performances are at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for children (plus applicable fees). For reservations, call 242-7469 or visit www.mauiarts.org. For more information about MAPA, call 244-8760 or visit www.mauiacademy.org.