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Audience ecstatic over ‘Wiazard of Oz’

All the work to put on musical was well worth it

— An ecstatic audience left the opening night performance of “The Wizard of Oz” on Friday at the Omak Performing Art Center.

It had been a sweeping performance with no visible hitches, and included a host of children (some very young) and a live dog.

The plot: A family in Kansas has a problem when the niece’s dog bites a neighbor, who thereupon serves as a prototype for the witch who turns up later in the plot. She demands the dog be put down and the niece, Dorothy, who has left home over this, gets caught by a tornado.

Dorothy suffers a blow on the head and the tornado picks up the house. When she arrives in Oz, she gives the source of the exclamation, which sometimes leaps into our language, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more.”

The script is written with a light touch, and the audience happily chuckled its way through the whole work.

Dorothy meets a crew of improbable characters, each endearing in its own way.

The costuming was with Susan Graves’ usual magic and emphasized the character of the various roles.

The sets were such as to carry out the thought of the action at any given point. There must have been many hours of painting done to so faithfully make a setting for the action of any given scene.

The action flowed smoothly. I was impressed by the way the characters roared at each other at times, wondering how the voices would hold up under such usage.

As often before, the orchestra provided a bridge for scene changes, taking us from place to place seamlessly as the action required.

There were many new names in the cast list this time. We have a new crop of actors on the way up, which bodes well for future productions. This is sound building; it provides for more to come.

I cannot comment on individuals. The singing, the dancing, the acting, the smooth production — all of it made for a very fine total. Comments from the audience afterward bear this out.

Was it worth it? The weeks and weeks of work?

Well, consider: L. Frank Baum’s Oz books are classics in their own right.

Then take a classic and make a classic presentation of it, that expands and extends it, and I think every member of that cast — writers, performers, support forces with scenery, costuming — bringing it to live from a script and score can be proud of their work.

Yes, it’s worth it.

Elizabeth Widel is a columnist and reviewer for The Chronicle. She can be reached at 509-826-1110.

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