You might as well just “follow the yellow brick road” to Theatre by the Bay. Then find a seat with your children and grandchildren for a slightly different and extremely family friendly version of the beloved classic, “The Wizard of Oz.”
Director and producer Larry Bloom with co-producers Barbara Koenig and Martha Stein has selected a script that will not trigger any nightmares for the little ones. There’s no scary music or burning brooms. Even the Wicked Witch’s cackle is cute.
In the role of Dorothy, Isabel Robin offers a sincere, easy on the ear portrayal. She establishes her stage presence early, standing with feet planted and eyes glistening for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Robin very capably provides a confident yet sympathetic delivery as the Kansas girl on a mission. Now in her teens, Robin continues to blossom vocally and theatrically.
The scarecrow (Jennifer Sanchez) has also matured musically onstage. Her mischievous smile and excellent agility add a consistently warm touch. A lengthy list of young kids plays the munchkins, jitterbugs and assorted residents of the Land of Oz. Their enthusiasm is a delight to watch. The Munchkin Mayor (Michael McBride) provides amiable leadership with his ear to ear grin.
Oh, there are a few grown-ups as well. The Wicked Witch of the West is played by community theatre veteran Jean Ann Kump. She wears pea soup green makeup and an oversized nose and pointy chin. Nevertheless, she still offers a deliberately non-threatening yet villainous characterization. The good Sorceress of the North (Lila Edelkind) is reassuring in her pink ball gown, crown and kindly smile.
The Tin Man (Jay Gurka) deftly squirts his oil can and reminds us that he needs a heart. The Cowardly Lion (Joseph Rand) steals the show with his unabashedly zippered lion suit and his quaking complaints. The Wizard of Oz himself (Mark Somen) is a long haired, charming gentleman.
Kudos to musical director Richard Louis-Pierre, choreographer Jessica McCuiston and the entire cast and crew for a great trip to the Land of Oz. There are still a few more shows at 13-00 209th Street (Bay Terrace Jewish Center). Call 718-428-6363 or visit www.theatrebythebayny.com.
Why not catch the many Queens productions in late winter and early spring? As always, save me a seat on the aisle.