When they told me “This isn’t your mother’s Oz”, I was skeptical. How different could it be? The Wizard of Oz is The Wizard of Oz, right? The staging of The Wizard of Oz last spring by Yorktown’s Performing Arts department (Director Carol Cadby, Music Program Director Brian Bersh, Choral Director Roger Oliver, Technical Director Maiba Bodrick and Choreographer Ryan Sellers) was nothing short of amazing. This show was the ultimate in creative staging and wonderful instrumentation. I couldn’t believe the orchestra pit was only high school students!
As director Carol Cadby explained at the beginning of the show, Dorothy now has access to the internet. Dorothy’s vision of Oz is now informed by the fantastical images she sees online. This lonely Kansas girl finds comfort in discovering cultures from around the world. A modern twist to a classic tale to be sure, but the standard script and score remain intact. To make the show come to life anew, the costumes, actor portrayal, and set design took on the challenge of transforming a tale from the American heartland to a multicultural feast for the eyes.
After Dorothy was bonked on the head during the legendary Kansas cyclone, she was transported to the whimsical land of Oz—where each character is influenced by Dorothy’s internet findings. The Scarecrow was fashioned after Confucius, the Tinman a Viking and the Cowardly Lion a Samurai. Dorothy’s internet research yields a Glenda the Good Witch who resembled Kwan Yi, the Bhuddist goddess of abundant compassion and a Wicked Witch reminiscent of an African Nightwalker, the Hottentot tribe’s mythological nocturnal villain. The Emerald City became the legendary city of Angkor Wat with a beautifully painted backdrop by local artist, Gankhuyag Natsag. Talk about thinking outside the box.
Carol Cadby has fostered a theatre program at Yorktown that is based on an ensemble mentality. The focus is on collaboration, experimentation and self-awareness. The motto is “It’s not about you!” This philosophy was clearly evident in a show where three Dorothys, a real live dog, a three woman Good Witch, and a Wicked Witch made up of four kinetically connected actors all co-existed. Yorktown Theatre productions are on the top of my list when it comes to local theatre. I can’t wait to see what they do this year!
— Punky Scruggs, Theatre II parent, TAP President