Seattle's Child

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A Parent’s Review: The Wizard of Oz

Follow the yellow brick road all the way to Edmonds and you'll be in for a treat. The Driftwood Players' current production of The Wizard of Oz is nothing less than delightfully charming. With a solid foundation made up of traditional elements mixed with fresh tidbits, the Driftwood Players have concocted a recipe that is satisfying for all ages.

From the opening scene, the audience is washed in the warmth of nostalgia. The actors not only look the way you expect, most of them even sound just like their movie counterparts. The resemblance is downright uncanny, and the kids love it. While the traditional elements from the film are dominant, the sprinkling of bits from the book as well as other cultural references, such as from The Lion King, are what make the production a powerful blend.

The costuming in the show is fabulous. I was especially fond of the Wicked Witch of the West's costume, again a blend of the traditional with a bit of a twist. Although it must be difficult to stage the dramatic change from the black and white Kansas to the full color of Oz, Driftwood's staging and costumes in Oz turned up the volume in both color and whimsy.

There is no doubt that kids love to watch other kids on stage. The Wizard of Oz provides many opportunities for kid actors as Munchkins and citizens of the Emerald City. The children's ensemble was tremendous. The kids were energized; they spoke clearly, danced merrily and thoroughly entertained the crowd.

I would be remiss if I did not mention one standout from the kids' ensemble, Anastasia Smirnova. Her enthusiasm and joie de vivre were infectious. Even without spoken lines, Anastasia made her presence in the ensemble felt every time she graced the stage. My 9-year-old commented that she had incredible stage presence. My 12-year-old said it was more of a life force. Regardless of what you call it, big things await this young girl.

Because it is a live show, the role of the flying monkeys is thankfully reduced to something more minimal. This alone makes the show easier for young kids to watch and enjoy. (And there are more than a few adults that will admit to still being afraid of the flying monkeys.)

The one place the show struggles just a bit is the many, many transitions of scenery. Staying true to the storyline is a big commitment. The show does a great job minimizing the sets needed for the various locations throughout the play. However, the short lulls in the action as scenery is moved can be difficult for wiggly kids, especially in the second half of the show.

The Wizard of Oz is a general seating show, so be sure to get there early if you can. Sitting up close has its benefits. The show includes a live dog, Brucetopher Jones, playing Toto for portions of the show. Needless to say, he steals the show when on stage. Both of my kids enjoyed watching his shenanigans as well as how the actors kept things on track regardless of what the pup was doing.

Also worth noting is the run time of the show, close to two-and-a-half hours with a short intermission. So I'd recommend the 2 p.m. matinee on Sundays or a non-school night for kids.

Whatever show you choose, you won't be disappointed. Dorothy knows "there's no place like home." However, the Wade James Theater in Edmonds is the really place to be, at least for the next few weeks.



Where: Wade James Theatre, 950 Main St., Edmonds. 

When: Now through Dec. 15, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. 

Cost: Adults $25; kids, senior and military $22.; 425-774-9600.

Kelly Rogers Flynt is a freelance writer based out of Lake Forest Park. She is the mother of two children, ages 9 and 12 who often make her wish she could ask the Wizard for a second brain and an extra pair of hands. 

About the Author

Kelly Rogers Flynt