Dorothy Gale, played by Sophie Eilert, dreams of the magical lands over the rainbow in Loveland High School’s production of The Wizard of Oz.
Review by Libby Boehmer, Saint Ursula Academy Critic Team
In a flash, a Kansas farm home is blown away to a whimsical land full of witches, magic and kooky characters. Loveland High School's production of The Wizard of Oz captured a feeling of childlike wonder through its excellent execution.
Based on the novel by Lyman Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz follows Dorothy Gale's quest to find a way back home to Kansas from the magical land of Oz. Along the way she meets such friends as Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion, all of whom are also in need of some kind of assistance. As they make their way to the Wizard of Oz, they are challenged by flying monkeys, cursed poppies, dancing bugs and, most menacingly, the Wicked Witch of the West. The classic tale is a sweet story about the importance friends and family who care for each other.
The audience was fully immersed in the land of Oz as a result of both technical aspects and actor interaction. "Snow" fell from the ceiling in the form of small bubbles, fully integrating viewers into the show. Actors made use of the isles, often entering from the back of the auditorium and rushing towards the stage. This made the pacing engaging and kept audience members waiting for what was to come.
Lead actress Sophie Eilert embodied Dorothy with child-like innocence. She was able to successfully show Dorothy's journey from naivety to maturity Her compelling characterization made it clear that Dorothy really believed that "there's no place like home." Moose Hendricks portrayed the iconic character of The Lion hilariously. By switching between overconfidence and sudden shyness, Hendricks made constant use of extravagant body language. The ensemble was also impressively versatile, with several actors taking on up to three different roles. All these roles required very different stage personas. For example, there were some actors who portrayed silly crows, elegant trees, hyper Jitterbugs and even happy Ozians.
The lighting crew, consisting of Nick Peebles, Izzy Bisogni, and Eleanor Klein, not only dramatized the production by flooding the stage with color, but also immersed the audience with the snow bubbles that fell both on and off stage. The Wicked Witch of the West received a special entrance filled with fog and bright green lights each time she came on stage, making her fear factor that much larger. The Publicity team, including Ella Clemons, created the perfect atmosphere before the show ever began. The lobby was decorated with balloons and a Yellow Brick Road themed concession stand, making the audience enter the land of Oz before witnessing Dorothy do so herself.
Loveland's The Wizard of Oz rightfully earned a standing ovation, leaving a feeling of nostalgia and love of family in the air.
Lion, played by Moose Hendricks, sings of his courage as king of the forest while Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Tinman encourage him in Loveland High School’s production of The Wizard of Oz.
Review by Kendall Davis, William Mason High School Critic Team
Somewhere over the rainbow, in the magical land of Ohio, Loveland High School's production of The Wizard of Oz delighted audiences.
The Wizard of Oz is based on the classic 1939 film, which is based on the 1900 book by L. Frank Baum. This beloved tale tells the story of Dorothy Gale, a Kansas girl swept away to the fanciful land of Oz. After befriending a brainless scarecrow, a heartless tinman, and a cowardly lion, they set off down the yellow brick road to find the Wizard of Oz in hopes that their wishes will be granted.
Sophie Eilert wonderfully replicated Judy Garland's voice and mannerisms from the original movie, immersing the audience in a believable early 20th-century American setting. Eilert's impressive voice filled the stage as she worked with her adorable sidekick, Toto the dog (played by Bandit). Alongside Eilert, Sam Broelmann, Ethan Shepherd, and Moose Hendricks entertained as Scarecrow , Tinman, and Lion respectively. In the song, "If I Were King of the Forest," Hendricks hilariously explained Lion's dreams of royalty. Also notably, Broelmann and Shepherd implemented great physical acting, suggesting that they truly were made of straw and tin.
Sophia Herbon and Liv Bast excellently contrasted the dueling personalities of The Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. On the journey along the yellow brick road, Sabrina Halili-Felse, Tricia Halili-Felse, and Riley Loomis stood out as the comical trees and crows who tormented the leading foursome. Tricia Halili-Felse , in particular, dazzled as Auntie Em, Crow, Tree, Ozian, Jitterbug, and choreographer. Talk about multi-tasking!
Technically speaking, this production was astounding. The projections used as backdrops (run by Ella Skolnicki and crew) truly added to the clarity of many scenes such as the twister, the opening of the gate to Oz, and the hot air balloon that whisks the wizard away. Also impressive was the lighting, run and designed by Nicholas Peebles and crew. In the twister scene, lights were used to add depth, and in more cheery scenes of Oz, lights were used to bring the childlike world to life. Adding to the whimsy of Dorothy's discovery of Scarecrow were the crow puppets that the props crew was responsible for (Ryan James, Campbell Hooper, and Isaac Endress). These puppets had a Muppet-esque feel to them and were amusing to watch.
With plenty of brains, heart, and courage, Loveland High School's production of The Wizard of Oz encapsulated the spirit of the cherished tale.
Glinda, The Good Witch of the North, played by Liz Bast, encourages the Munchkins to come out of hiding to meet Dorothy whose house landed on the wicked witch in Loveland High School’s production of The Wizard of Oz.
Review by Katherine Foster, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team
From Kansas to Oz and back again, Loveland High School's production of The Wizard of Oz was a heartwarming and nostalgic journey over the rainbow.
Based on the book by L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz is a classic musical that tells the story of Dorothy Gale, a girl who is whisked away to the magical world of Oz by a tornado and makes many friends and enemies on her quest to find her way back home to Kansas.
Sophie Eilert's embodiment of Dorothy Gale was endearing and inspiring as she adopted the classic vocal tone and ever-optimistic attitude of the iconic character. Her lovely, lilting vocals during "Over the Rainbow"were made even more impressive as she managed to sing beautifully while handling the live dog who was playing Toto. Dorothy's companions, Scarecrow (Sam Broelmann), Tinman (Ethan Shepherd), and Lion (Moose Hendricks), brought humor and heart to her adventure with their larger-than-life personas and with the tender bonds of friendship they created with her onstage.
Liv Bast practically floated across the stage as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. Her queenly bearing and elegant gestures perfectly suited the beloved character. The Emerald City Guard (George Jewell) served as an engaging and comedic guide as he introduced Dorothy and friends to the green glamour of the Emerald City. His high-kneed march of a character walk was hilarious.
Tech elements also helped bring the enchanting land of Oz to life. Lighting by Nicholas Peebles, Eleanor Klein, and Izzy Bisogni illustrated Dorothy's transportation from Kansas to Oz by going from plain to wildly colorful. Also, a series of lights created a pattern of flashes that brought a realistic and suspenseful feel to the tornado scene. Choreography by Tricia Halili-Felse for the upbeat number "Jitterbug" was boisterous and spunky, making the number one of the most enjoyable moments in the show. Props creatively sourced and created by Ryan James, Campbell Hooper, and Isaac Endress added to the lively and whimsical atmosphere of the show, most notably three crow puppets that poked through cutouts in a set piece and humorously swayed and sang along with Scarecrow's song. These harmonizing crows were charmingly voiced by Sabrina Halili-Felse, Tricia Halili Felse, and Riley Loomis.
Loveland High School's production of The Wizard of Oz brought to life the magic of an unforgettable childhood tale. The cast and crew's commitment to keeping the classic feel of the show made this production truly feel like home, and as we all know, there's no place like home!
The Emerald City Guard, played by George Jewell, welcomes Tinman, Dorothy, Scarecrow and Lion to Oz in Loveland High School’s production of The Wizard of Oz.
Excerpts From Other Top Reviews
"The entire cast was always engaged and energetic, from leads to ensemble. With so many fantastical characters there were a wide range of physicalities and accents the actors had to adopt, from the chattering of flying monkeys to the graceful swaying of apple trees. Every cast member did well. Standout performances were given by Sam Broelmann as Scarecrow and Ethan Shepherd as Tinman. They each kept their physicalities even when dancing or shaking hands. The Wicked Witch and Dorothy, played by Sophia Herbon and Sophie Eilert, had especially strong vocals, handling difficult jumps in their songs well. Eilert captured Dorothy's wonder and bravery perfectly throughout the show, whether she was facing Miss Almira Gulch or The Wizard of Oz."
-Maria Zacher, William Mason High School Critic Team
"Sophia Herbon, as The Wicked Witch of the West, was astonishing. She captured the sinister, chilling nature of the witch beautifully. Her vocals in "Jitterbug" were especially impressive. A group which deserves recognition are the Trees, played by Sabrina Halili-Felse, Tricia Halili-Felse, and Riley Loomis. The trio of singers were graceful with their mysterious bewitching voices, which added a mystical feel to the scene."
-Julia Biernat, Saint Ursula Academy Critic Team
"The crew of this production provided the crucial visuals of Oz and its people. Costumers, Eva Walzer, Sophie Reimels, and Elena Ruiz collaborated excellently with the Hair and Make-up team of Ella Clemons, Grace Hepburn and Hailey Mollman, to recreate the looks of the 1939 film, even changing Dorothy's dress from black and white to blue in imitation of the film's switch to color. These crews also showed great skill in their quick changes, such as transforming Sophia Herbon from Miss Gulch's to the fully green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West, in less than two scenes."
-Aubrie Klei, Campbell County High School Critic Team
"A feast for the eyes, the lighting by Nicholas Peebles, Eleanor Klein, and Izzy Bisogni included moving lights during the tornado scene that significantly heightened the stakes of the scene, and they continued to dazzle with their color schemes throughout the production. The costumes, by Eva Waltzer, Sophie Reimels, and Elena Ruiz, were gorgeous, especially, the Trees' outfits, with their impressive use of greenery. Additionally, the numerous costume changes were handled with skill."
-Loretta Rubin, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
"Dorothy encounters many other characters on her way through Oz. She first meets Glinda, The good witch of the North, played by Liv Bast. Liv had a gentle and light voice, evidenced in songs such as, "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead". Moose Hendricks, as The Lion, gave an outstanding vocal performance. He had a powerful belt worthy of a lion and was comfortable with the pitch ranges in his songs. Last but not least, George Jewell, as the Emerald City Guard, gave one of the most comedic performances of the production. His scrunched up face and funny delivery of his lines, earned plenty of laughs from the audience."
-Bailey Klei, Campbell County High School Critic Team
"Loveland High School did an excellent job of capturing the nostalgia of the show and its characters. It was apparent that the cast put in a lot of time learning the mannerisms of the characters. This was especially evident in the performances of Dorothy, Glinda , and the Wicked Witch of the West. Sophie Eilert, who played the role of Dorothy, was able to imitate the rich voice of Judy Garland with impressive accuracy. Eilert was also able to easily adapt to working with an animal onstage, which was very impressive."
-Anya Sperber, Saint Ursula Academy Critic Team
"Despite this show being both technically difficult and the audience having preconceptions on what they hoped to see, Loveland High School took it all on and delivered."
-Elizabeth Cho, Saint Ursula Academy Critic Team