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'Wizard' Takes Audience Down Road Worth Following

Kerowyn Brewer, a student at Westfield High, reviews Annandale's "The Wizard of Oz."

Lions and tin men and scarecrows, oh my! With these characters and more, Annandale High School presented "The Wizard of Oz," a two-act dramatization of the L. Frank Baum book adapted by playwright Anne Coulter Martens.

Annandale's production last weekend offered surprises. Dorothy still followed the yellow brick road with the friends who were out to find brains, courage and heart. But Annandale's show stayed more true to the Baum book than the cherished 1939 movie.

The show was aimed mainly toward a young audience, with a shortened script and more simplistic style. The result was a performance that would charm any child.

The show opened with big-hearted and bubbly Dorothy (Lauren Kinch) being blown away from her Kansas home. Kinch charmed with her girlish personality and unceasing energy, which kept the first act going, along with the help of her sidekick, Toto (Tilley Jurenas). Dorothy and Toto set off to see the Wizard, gathering the Scarecrow (Tien Nguyen), Tin Woodman (Sam Leslie) and Lion (Daren Lopez) along the way, each of whom delivered plenty of jokes and puns that children could understand and had moments in which their personalities shined through.

The second act only got better with the appearance of Belinda, the Wicked Witch of the West (Julie Jurenas), and the Wizard of Oz (John Odom). Belinda was delightfully appealing to children and adults. She interacted well with her entertaining posse of pet cats (Sandra Abilmona, Sally Abilmona and Corinne Summer).

After securing a magical cap from Belinda, Dorothy went to see the Wizard of Oz. From the moment the Wizard set foot on stage, he seemed to spread his abundant energy to everyone. His character had the most depth and was very believable. Verdo (Eli Sloan), the Wizard's personal guard, and Jade (Elvish Scheible), the Wizard's maid, helped the transitions between sets to be more enjoyable by drawing many laughs from the audience. Although we saw them only twice, their characters were believable and very humorous.

The sets, although simple, served their purpose perfectly and were completely suitable for children's imaginations. The few set changes were seamless. Some simple lighting effects were also used, for when Belinda died and for the many appearances of the Wizard to Dorothy and her friends.

In the end, Dorothy clicked her red ruby heels and returned to Kansas. Despite Annandale High's dress rehearsals being disrupted due to snow, the cast and crew did an admirable job of delivering a captivating show for their young audience.

By Washington Post Editors  |  February 5, 2009; 11:23 AM ET
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