Review: The Wizard of Oz at ICT

Magic is the name of the game this month at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre. Friday evening the Indianapolis Civic Theatre opened their production of The Wizard of Oz revealing many moments of theatre magic. From the simulated tornado to the reveal of a technicolor world to a Wicked Witch melting before your eyes, the Indianapolis Civic Theatre has created a piece of theatre magic that will run in the Circle City through January 3. Head to Marian Univeristy to partake in this remake of the MGM classic film.

The Indianapolis Civic Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz is a captivating remake of the MGM classic film. Though the direction varies little from the original concepts of the movie, and performances are dull imitations of the real stars from the movie, this production of The Wizard of Oz still manages to open your heart to the power of positive thinking. Meg Duell stars as Dorothy on the Marian University stage. Its hard not to compare her performance to the great Judy Garland’s, especially in a staged production that pulls out all of the stops to reproduce scenes from the movie. But Duell is charming nonetheless. Her voice rises to the challenges in range of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Though she falls flat at times, the dreamy look in Duell’s eyes as she experiences Oz make her akin to any little girl who has wishes to travel far away.

The yellow-brick-road foursome is completed with performances from Vince Accetturo as the Scarecrow, Rick Shinkle as the Tin Woodsman and Tommy Bullington as the Cowardly Lion. Each actor is perfect for the part he plays. Accetturo’s Scarecrow uses a little less physical comedy than is normally expected from the role, but his persevering smile carries him through the plot. Shinkle as the Tin Woodsman has enough heart to fill several auditoriums, giving a solid performance of a tin man afraid to love. Bullington steals the spotlight quite a bit, with the best one-liners. Without question, the Cowardly Lion has all the best jokes, and Bullington successfully goes for the punch every time.

The roles of the two witches of the play are filled by Kelly Elissa Najacht (Glinda the Good Witch) and Susan Boilek Smith (Wicked Witch of the West). Najact has all the pink puffy elegance of the original Glinda. She even flies in and out on her own bubble. While Smith’s witchly cackle has the ability to send chills down anyone’s spine. The large cast is rounded out by a mammoth Munchkin ensemble. On Friday night, every parent and grandparent in a twenty mile radius turned up with flowers in-hand to support these young thespians, making for a fun show. Every time Munchkins came on stage the crowd went wild. Plus, Ozian men and women that don every shade of green account for the magic of the Emerald City.

But the real stars of the show are the scenic and lighting designs by Ryan Koharchik. Koharchik, known in almost every playhouse in the Circle City as design master, lets his imagination run wild. The show most definitely is intentional in it’s attempt to transpose the film into a live action experience. But imitative performances from the cast alone would have almost definitely spelled failure for this production. Koharchik’s set and lights create a world where you would expect nothing less than the best Hoosier impressions of the fearsome foursome.

Using a double rainbow arch motif, Ryan Koharchik takes the audience quite literally over the rainbow. With tons of magical reveals of locations, a balloon that really flies, a house caught in a tornado, and (most importantly) a Wicked Witch that melts right in front of your eyes, Koharchik’s creative imagination makes the Indianapolis Civic Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz soar! When coupled with the spot-on costumes by Jean Engstrom, the directorial concept for The Wizard of Oz takes flight. In my book, the design team at Indianapolis Civic Theatre are the true stars of the Winter production at Indianapolis Civic Theatre.

For more information on tickets and show times for The Wizard of Oz, visit the Indianapolis Civic Theatre’s official website.

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The Wizard of Oz
Through January 3, 2010

Indianapolis Civic Theatre
Marian University
3200 Cold Spring Road
Indianapolis, IN