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August 1, 2006 > Rainbow Childrens Theater debuts The Wizard of Oz

Rainbow Childrens Theater debuts The Wizard of Oz

by Arnie Becker

There is nothing quite like the sparkle and delight of children performing in a light-hearted and fun musical. Opening night at the Rainbow Theater in Milpitas proved no exception with lots of sparkle, spring-in-the-step and just plain fun in a sold-out performance of The Wizard of Oz. Children, ranging in age from elementary school to college, performed well despite intermittent glitches in the sound system and occasional competition with an orchestra that might have benefited from fewer instruments.

Rainbow Theater's production is directed by Anne Kelly with vocal director Evan Boomer and music director Chris Kaldy. Set designer Jerald Enos and master carpenter David Sword crafted a clever staging of props. Kelly worked from the script first written by L. Frank Baum with music and lyrics from the MGM motion picture scored by Harold Arlen and Y. E. Harburg. This production also featured background music by Herbert Stothart.

This is the story of Dorothy, a lonely Kansas farm girl who dreams of a better place where her dog Toto would not be tormented by their hateful neighbor spinster. Dorothy runs away only to be knocked unconscious during a fierce tornado. Transported to a land "over the rainbow," she meets magical characters bearing the likenesses of family and friends from her Kansas life. In a series of misadventures, they form a group seeking the wizard named Oz. A "good witch" directs them to "follow the yellow brick road" to the Emerald City, home of Oz. Along the way, the intrepid group defeats the Wicked Witch of the West, earning an audience with the wizard whom they hope will grant their wishes.

The Rainbow Theater production features remarkable poise and talent from Lauren Alvear, a St. Victor's School fifth-grader. This is Alvear's fifth production with Rainbow Theater and her stage presence shines. Another surprise star was the dog playing Toto. It was present and participating in most of the scenes and always well behaved. If this was a rookie performer, it didn't show.

The unique set design employed all four sides of the stage. At different times during the show, performers would sneak in the shadows to their positions in these split sets, the lights would come up and they appeared like magic. Scene changes were done quickly and professionally. Even the apple tree with its glued-on apples was inventive.

Costumes reflected the early 20th century time period of the play and easily managed the illusion of depicting children as adults. One costume though stands out as a piece of art. The Tin Man looked perfect from head to foot. It was most likely the hardest costume to prepare as it had to be applied from top to bottom. Along with this outstanding costume, the older girls in the chorus were beautiful in their formal gowns, looking ready for the senior ball.

This play is highly recommended for young and old alike.

For tickets or more information, call (408) 586-3210.

The Wizard of Oz
Rainbow Theater
Milpitas Community Center
457 E. Calavaras Blvd., Milpitas
Wednesday - Friday, August 2, 3, 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 5 at 3 p.m.

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