By Christi Geary
In the middle of an insane weekend filled with championship swim-meets, choir class, birthday parties for friends and other insanity, one blissful moment of focus and enjoyment came when we had the opportunity to attend The Children’s Theater of Cincinnati’s Wizard of Oz production. I took my youngest daughter (almost 7 years old) and our babysitter (who is like family and helps enable our crazy schedule). Needless to say my mindset was a bit harried when we finally found our seats, but that changed the moment the curtain went up and we were transported to Kansas.
Mikki Schaffner Photography
Let’s start with the sets and costumes, which were clever, powerful and felt like they had stepped off the big screen. My daughter’s favorite was the Wicked Witch’s castle and I have to agree. However, the sheer creativity involved in creating a tornado inside, on a stage, and in the middle of February, was also pretty impressive. The costumes were what you would expect from the land of Oz – filled with color and magic, making you wish that you had an Emerald City party to attend in the near future. But let’s focus on the cast of characters, who were the real ‘ruby slippers’ of the show. Dorothy was pure delight with a voice that reminded me of the original Judy Garland when she launched into ‘Over the Rainbow’, with the added bonus of an adorable Toto that was exceptionally well behaved (no way he would have bitten cranky Miss Gulch!). Scarecrow was funny and surprised everyone with excellent ballet moves, Tin Man was endearing and caused quite a bit of empathy with my own squeaky joints, but the fan favorite was definitely the Lion…his humorous and loyal portrayal made us all want to take him home with us. The cast was truly excellent and they delivered their roles with conviction and not a little touch of magic. All in all, an excellent production from start to finish. My daughter’s review: “It was really good and I liked that it was not black and white at the beginning like the movie. I wanted to give it 5 out of 5 stars, but decided it was 4.5 stars because the witch was so scary!”
All that said, remember, this is a production designed for and primarily attended by very little ones. They are going to wiggle, they are going to go to the bathroom – sometimes multiple times, and they are going to talk. In fact, the constant murmur of noise acts as the best review around: the sing-along to ‘Over the Rainbow’, the giggles when Scarecrow stumbles and Lion cowers, and the gasps (and yes, some crying) when the Wicked Witch of the West arrives all showcase the contagious love, delight and engagement from a crowd that lives for this kind of show. So embrace the ambient noise as reassurance that The Children’s Theater of Cincinnati knows their audience and definitely hit it over the rainbow with The Wizard of Oz!
On a related note, my youngest daughter takes a drama class with The Children’s Theatre (TCT) and she loves it. Being able to attend a show by the same organization and understand how her classes might someday culminate in being on stage was a pretty incredible experience. TCT does such a great job with the kids and really focuses on building up their confidence and having fun. Consider joining for their free classes offered the weekend of April 8-9th (register online) and/or one of their summer camps this summer. Regardless, plan on taking the yellow brick road to see Tarzan in April – it is sure to be a lot of fun!
NOTE: TCT just announced their 2017-2018 show line-up and it sounds amazing – my daughter has already made plans for Christmas Cinderella and Mary Poppins!
Christi Geary is the proud mom of two girls under 10, best friend and wife of her husband Brian, and an Associate Director at the Procter & Gamble Company focused on shopper insights and analytics. She enjoys art of all kinds, feeds an insatiable curiosity for learning, pursues different forms of exercise when she can find the time, and delights in spending time with family and friends!