Forget what you knew about Oz. When you step into the immersive, magical land at Serenbe Playhouse, you will find a fresh, imaginative take on the classic story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Based on the novel by L. Frank Baum, Rachel Teagle has crafted one of her most mature and enjoyable adaptations yet. While there aren’t as many pop-culture references and witty statements, her trademark humor is still ever as much noticeable.
It is a tightly written piece that will entertain children and adults while staying mostly true to the book, and it even includes a few things that other adaptations leave out. The familiar characters all are there, but with a few twists. Who would have thought that the good witch of the South would show such southern hospitality?
To complement Teagle’s script, director Brian Clowdus has once again found the perfect location in the picturesque Serenbe community to stage the production. Nestled in The Animal Village behind the Inn at Serenbe, audiences become immersed in Dorothy’s world.
As soon as you arrive at the “theater,” goats, chickens and rabbits usher you into the farm. Then, after winding through the farm, tall pine trees create a grand ceiling with fences framing the stunning (and real) yellow brick road, which serves as the stage. The natural setting provides the right backdrop, and green glasses, just as in the novel, are provided for the guests of Oz to wear when instructed by the guardian of Oz, adding a nice touch.
A highlight of the show is the puppetry created by the Center for Puppetry Arts. Consisting of earthy, found objects, such as gourds, the whimsical puppets add a unique dimension to the show. In addition, Jamie Bullins’ costumes, follows the same earthy idea.
Each of the cast members shine under Clowdus’ direction. Skylar Nicholson, who many remember as Alice in the theater’s production of Alice in Wonderland, is charming as Dorothy. The youthful energy and curiosity she brings to Dorothy makes the character captivating to watch.
As her companions on her journey, Lauren Chamblin (the Cowardly Lion), Alex Towers (Tin Man) and Will Skelton (Scarecrow) are equally as impressive. They are funny at just the right moments, and interact with the children in the audience well, which helps to keep their attention.
A show for the whole family, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz runs through August 3, 2014 at Serenbe Playhouse. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website. The show’s runtime is about an hour. While there is some seating available, the theater recommends that you bring your own chairs or blankets to sit on during the show.
– Kenny Norton