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Review: ‘Wizard of Oz,' in a word, ‘Delightful!'

January 25, 2002|By RUTH SMITH, Special to this newspaper

BRAWLEY — Delightful! Delightful! Delightful!

Adorable munchkins! Spectacular sets! Lovable lion! Colorful costumes!

Superlatives such as these come to mind when describing the Thursday night dress rehearsal of "The Wizard of Oz" at Palmer Performing Arts Center in Brawley. Presented by North County Coalition for the Arts and Brawley Union High School, this show is a "must see" for the entire family.

Young children will especially enjoy the musical because it is so visually appealing. But then, "Wizard" appeals to all the senses. The orchestra is polished and turned in a superb performance Thursday. The principals are seasoned and skilled actors.

Richard Knights steals the show as the Cowardly Lion. Mild-mannered and clumsy, Scarecrow is well-portrayed by Bob Nelson, who also does an excellent job of directing the production. Although a relative novice (this may have been his premiere performance) Cliff Strahm plays the kind, gentle Tin Man as a pro.

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The three wicked witches, played by local community leaders Judy Chilcott, Deborah Owen and Karin Morgan, are hysterical. In contrast, Deborah Montoya as the good witch is believably sweet.

Bernard Schaaf is absolutely perfect as the Wizard! Megan Strahm carries the lead well as Dorothy, as we have come to expect.

The highlight of the evening was watching the children of all different age levels enjoying themselves onstage. Their costumes were charming. Their family and friends will be impressed with how well they perform.

There are still some finishing touches that need to occur before tonight's opening performance. For the most part, we could hear the speakers and singers, but at times their microphone levels needed to be adjusted. The set changes were a bit slow, and the hope is this will be corrected.

Overall, I would encourage everyone to follow the yellow brick road to Palmer and be as delighted as I was with this sparkling musical production. Performances are at 7 tonight and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

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