Friday, December 19, 2008

Galena Signal publishes review of Oz 12/19/2008

The Galena Signal is a relatively newer hometown paper which is getting on it's feet and doing a great job covering local events, especially entertainment.The founder Jim Greenfield wrote the following review of Oz which appeared in today's paper - CONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE! Hats off to you!
And Your Little Dog, Too
By: Jim Greenfield

It seems these days that superlatives are thrown around like nickels when they should be treated more like manhole covers. But last week's production of The Wizard of Oz by Franklin Civic Operetta Association at the Barrow-Civic Theatre deserved its plethora of accolades.

First the statistics: 90 actors (including one remarkably poised and involved little dog), 6 stage curtains, 3 follow spot lights, 2 trap doors, 1 hydraulic lift, 2 flash pots, 20 pyrotechnic fountains, 2 strobe lights, 18 musicians, 15 microphones, 1 trampoline, 2 cameras and 6 dressing rooms. Whew! How director Ted Smith orchestrated all that while keeping his sanity is itself an amazing mystery. And as if that wasn't enough, Ted was unexpectedly pressed into service as the Wizard near the end of rehearsals!

I attended the opening night performance on Thursday as part of a nearly-full house. As should be expected on an opening night, there were a few glitches, but they were extremely minor, and you almost had to be looking for them. The actor W.C. Fields has been quoted as saying "never work with children or animals'. We should be thankful that Franklin Civic Operetta ignored that advice. The March of the Munchkins (at least that's what I call it) near the beginning of the show involved nearly 30 children of varying ages and was almost worth the price of admission by itself. And Moesley, as Toto, was quite the polished and obedient performer, too.

Moesley even provided an ad lib (at least I'm pretty sure it wasn't part of the script) when he started barking at something off stage. The timing was perfect as he was confronting the Cowardly Lion (Mike Leisher) at the time and the Lion "went with it" by becoming even more fearful of the ferocious canine. The actors' performances were all solid at worst and in most cases very good. As you hope for any good theatric or film performance, it rarely crossed my mind that "Hey, they're acting".

The principal leads - Molly Burkett (Dorothy), Bret Sloan (the Scarecrow), Jacob Krupitzer (the Tin Man), Mike Leisher (the Cowardly Lion), Linda Leisher (the Good Witch), Ted Smith (the Wizard) and Jamie Agnello (the Wicked Witch) - all gave polished performances and interacted with each other in ways that gave the performance depth and continuity. And definite crowd favorites were Aaron Ritsig and Andrew Ritsig as the crows harassing and mocking the Scarecrow.

The Barrow-Civic stage was expanded around the orchestra pit and into the seating area for this production. Use of the aisles for performing entrances during several parts of the show helped bring the audience into the event. It was from time to time disconcerting to see how close the performers, particularly the children, came to the open orchestra pit - often while running. Thankfully, the only flying or disappearances that took place were planned. The expanded stage was a critical element in this production, and I don't think there was any other way it could have been handled.

The Wizard of Oz was a fitting culmination to Franklin Civic Operetta's 50th anniversary season, to the astounding number of top notch actors, musicians and support personnel with which our little corner of the world is blessed and to the gem that is the Barrow-Civic Theatre.

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