(Posted 8:30 a.m., Feb. 6)
cast superb in MCT production of 'The Wiz of the West'
By Fred Sherwin
Wiz of the West' put on old twist on the classic
'Wizard of Oz' story with Dotty, Mooch, Tincup,
Lionel and the Scared Crow. Fred Sherwin/Photo
Missoula Children's Theatre made their annual pilgrimage
to Orléans this week and the result was an extremely entertaining
production entitled "The Wiz of the West" featuring
54 budding thespians between the ages of six and 17.
play was held in the theatre at École secondaire
Béatrice-Desloges in Avalon, with performances
at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Wiz of the West" provides a somewhat different twist
on the classic "The Wizard of Oz". There's still
a Dorothy and a Toto only they're called Dotty and Mooch,
and instead of a tin man, cowardly lion and scare crow,
there's a tinhorn, a cowardly Lionel and a scared crow.
of the Wicked Witch of the West, there's Hawknose Halley
and instead of the great and powerful Oz there is the
big and very large Dr. Ozzy, purveyor of snake oil and
get the picture.
the different characters, the storyline is very similar
to the original. Dotty's house gets caught up in a tornado
and end's up landing on top of Kansas Kattie in the middle
of Montanta where she meet's Cyclone Sam and the Munch
family, also known as the Munch Kin. Get it?
wants to return home, but the only person who can help
her is Dr. Ozzy, who lives in Green Glen a fair distance
journey through the desert and over the mountains.
order to help her find her way, Cyclone Sam tells her
to put on Kansas Kattie's boots. But just as Dotty puts
them on, Hawknose Halley arrives on the scene with her
henchmen Mad Dog, Top Dog and Bad Dog.
Halley finds out that Dotty killed her sister, she demands
that Dotty hand over her sister's boots. Dotty refuses
and Hawknose Halley is forced to take her leave while
promising to exact her revenge.
a pep talk from Cyclone Sam, Dotty and Munch set out to
find Dr. Ozzy. Along the way they meet a scared crow;
a frozen tinhorn, or minor, who they manage to thaw out;
and the former Mayor of Castle Butte who was chased out
of town by Hawknose Halley.
also encounter a flock of buzzards and a gaggle of the
cutest turantulas you've ever seen. Fortunately, they
have a pack of coyotes watching over them and before too
long they final get an audience with the great and very
large Dr. Ozzy who is less than sympathetic to Dotty's
of helping her get home, he tell's her to find Hawknose
Halley and bring back her hawknose.
Mooch and their newfound friends track Halley down, and
after a scuffle, they eventually rip off Halley's fake
hawknose to reveal a beautiful young woman. As it turns
out Halley wore the nose because "no one takes a
pretty girl seriously".
wore it to get respect," Halley claims revealing
the theme of the play -- never judge a book by it's cover.
people knew you for what was on the inside and not the
outside, they'd respect you," Dotty tells Halley,
who finally sees the light.
helping Halley, the merry band of friends brings the fake
hawknose to Dr. Ozzy who addresses them through a megaphone
from behind a large curtain which Cyclone Sam peels away
to reveal the real Dr. Ozzy, who turns out to be a lot
tinier than his persona.
to the theme, Dr. Ozzy realizes that he doesn't need to
hide behind a curtain to get people's respect. The scared
crow realizes that she's every bit as intelligent as the
next crow. The tinhorn minor realizes he really does have
a heart afterall. And Lionel realizes that he needs to
stand up for himself.
for Dotty, she realizes that her newfound friends are
her family and she decides to stay in Montana.
a feel good play brought to life by a terrific young cast.
What made the production so remarkable is the fact that
auditions were held just five days before the actual play.
Children's Theatre directors Eric Doades and Jocelyn Bjornstad
were charged with the task of preparing the large cast
for Saturday's performances, including the costuming and
choreography. They did a remarkable job.
Leboeuf was so good in the lead role of Dotty, I thought
she was one of the directors at first. It wasn't until
the house lights came on and I checked the program that
I realized she was one of the actors. Sara Mosher was
excellent as well as Hawknose Halley, and Anne-Carolyne
Binette did a standup job as the Scared Crow, as did Riley
Hawkins and Matthew Schlachter who played the Tinhorn
and Lionel respectively.
most pleasant surprise of the afternoon was delivered
by Janita Zhang, who played Dr. Ozzy. Zhang's solo performance
was simply spellbinding. The rest of the principal cast
included Eric Jones as Mooch; Amy Lowson as Top Dog; and
Laurent Molino as Bad Dog.
Children's Theatre is based in Missoula, Montana. Their
mission is to teach children life lessons through the
magic of theatre. Each year, a small army of Missoula
directors fans out across North America to spread the
show is produced by local volunteers who billet the directors,
publicize the auditions and organize the rehearsals.
year's production was organized by Kim Kimbell and Marcia
O'Connor, who got a lot of help from former producer Heather
Dunbar, Heather Dale and Scottie Sponder.
actor, producer and pianist Nicolas Butt also returned
as the guest accompaniest.
in all, "The Wiz of the West" is another in
a long line of excellent Missoula productions, providing
local youth with an opportunity to take part in the most
magical of endeavours -- live theatre.
local production of 'The Wiz of the West'
featured several ensemble numbers involving
the entire cast. Fred Sherwin/Photo
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)
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