Not in Kansas Anymore

Art Factory’s twist on The Wizard of Oz

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Ginger Doyle

Senior and online editor MackenseyD following the yellow brick road into Art Factory to see The “Wizard of Oz.”

In honor of the 80th anniversary of the beloved film, Art Factory, a small professional theatre just outside of downtown, put on a reimagined production of The Wizard of Oz. I am not the biggest fan of this famous story, but seeing this show was the most fun I have had in the theatre for awhile.

Art Factory’s colorful and exciting approach to the beloved classic centers on dropping the audience right into the world of Dorothy and Toto from the second they walk into the theatre. The lobby was decked out with colorful lights and a chalkboard wall to write rainbow messages, and reviews, of the performance. Additionally, once the doors were opened for us all to pick our seats we all had to follow the yellow brick road to enter the theatre. It was truly an immersive experience from the moment the house doors opened.

Differing from the typical casting of the show, the cast was on the smaller side and the set was very minimal and intimate. I sat front row, like I always do anytime I see a show, and truly felt I was on the journey through Oz with Dorothy and her friends. Not only was the size of the cast small, the casting differed from the average production. The scarecrow was played by a woman and, quite honestly, the difference was not one that I noticed. I am typically a stickler in doing shows how they are written and changing gender or things of that sort drives me nuts, but it was done so tastefully in this production and the young high school junior, Gia Ochsenbein, who played the scarecrow was absolutely outstanding. After watching her performance it is hard to think of the scarecrow any other way. 

The cast was all around absolutely remarkable. Emily Curda’s Dorothy was sweet and heartfelt. I could feel every emotion she even pondered and it struck a chord with me. Unlike most two dimensional versions of dorothy done in community theatres all around the world, Curda’s Dorothy was deeper and every emotion was deep. While her facial expressions were not extreme and over exaggerated, they were softer and much more believable. I truly felt at the end that Oz had changed and affected her. It was moving and I would be lying to say I did not shed a tear at the finale.

Another actor that deserves the utmost praise is Tyler Galindo, the man of many faces. Galindo played everyone from Uncle Henry to the mayor of Munchkin City to the Gatekeeper of Oz. While Galindo’s face appeared constantly throughout the production, his character was always so diverse from the one he played in the scene before. Galindo’s mayor, however, was a personal favorite of mine for he entered and I could not stop laughing until he left and became a new character. He is a comedic genius and I cannot wait to see what is next for him. There is nothing this man cannot do.

While I will not spoil what made Galindo’s mayor so hilarious, I will hint that it was predominantly due to the magic of costuming. This whole show ran on the magic of costuming. I was amazed by all of the different and colorful things worn throughout the show. In the beginning the lighting and costumes truly made me feel I was seeing the show in black and white, or rather in shades of brown just like the movie. Once in Oz, the costumes and lights were all so colorful and stunning. The Munchkin’s costumes were adorable and funny, yet fashionable. I highly enjoyed all the shades of blue, the munchkins favorite color as Glinda pointed out upon her entrance, in munchkinland as well as all the boujee outfits the Ozians wore in the Emerald City. I could go on for hours about Glinda’s stunning glitter gown as well as her pink dipped wig. Additionally, I could go hoarse from screaming about how gorgeous the wicked witch looked. Robyn Troup was spectacular performing as the witch, but also her hair, makeup, and costumes were gorgeous for both Miss. Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West. I have to say the design elements of the show were stellar, to say the least.

The one complaint I had with this show was the slow transitions. While moments like the tornado and the talking trees were great ways to hide the scene changes, I feel it needed more. In act one I fear I spent a good deal of time sitting in a silent blackout hearing the sound of sets being moved. While the transitions picked up in act two and the empty space was by no means hours long, it still was upsetting and in all honesty; worrisome. The first time the transition lagged I was scared to death someone got hurt or there was an emergency. Alas, it was just costume and set changes taking a little longer than initially planned. However it must be taken into consideration the technical monster this show was. It had bubbles, snow and a live dog playing Toto. Additionally, the talent was so impeccable and the design of the show as a whole was spectacular so the lagging transitions were forgivable. 

A highpoint of the production for me was the ensemble. There was something special about the ensemble numbers like “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” and “jitterbug” that I cannot explain. The energy and excitement radiating from everyone in the ensemble was breathtaking and made the show ten times more fun. Every single person had such an individualized character and it was so refreshing to see such depth in The Wizard of Oz. The amount of times a children’s theatre has done The Wizard of Oz filled to the brim with hundreds of children smiling and singing, but their characters as deep as a kiddie pool. The prominent thought put into character and relationships, not only in the amazing ensemble but the whole cast, was exhilarating and a breath of fresh air.

Art Factory’s The Wizard of Oz is sure to get you singing, dancing and in a heartfelt mood perfect for the holiday. I had the privilege of seeing it with my family and it was truly a blessing because it reminded us just how much we love one another. The Wizard of Oz runs until Dec. 8 and simply cannot be missed! I hope you all take the trip over the rainbow to see the colorful masterpiece that is Art Factory’s The Wizard of Oz.