Among the tourists from far and yon visiting town this summer, a young girl named Dorothy who made her appearance at the Goleta Valley Junior High Theater stands out. She is of course the main character in The Wizard of Oz, which Stage Left Productions presented on July 19 and 20. In just four weeks, Stage Left founders Shana Lynch Arthurs and Steven Lovelace recreated Oz in Goleta, dividing 85 children by age into Green and Blue casts. Both groups had distinctive styles. For instance, Dorothy (Rachelle Clark) of the Green Cast sweetly sings her way back home, while the Blue Cast’s Dorothy (Fernanda Douglas) plays resourcefully upon her acting skills to defeat the Wicked Witch (Emily Gordon). And of course, both Green and Blue had their intelligence, heart, and courage with Scarecrow (Emma Steinkellner and Daniel Salinas), Tinman (Matthew Doohan and Kevin Parker), and Cowardly Lion (Sam Kulchin and Jonathan Bommerez).
The musical itself was an all-around successful show with humorously witty lines from a supposedly brainless Scarecrow, “But some people without brains do a lot of talking.” The Wicked Witch kept her audience constantly laughing especially when dark humor was implemented within her character as the Green Cast’s Mia Burridge seemed specialized in doing. Furthermore, the creative elements came from the choreography and musical incorporation of songs from artists such as Sting and the B-52s in several dance ensembles. The most beautiful scene in this performance came at the end of Act I in “Poppies.” These poppies consist of about seven dancers wrapped in lime cloth with eyes and lips shiny and ready to enchant Dorothy and her companions.
Dorothy and her entourage have never been livelier than when impersonated by a cast of 85 kids. A medley of dancing, singing, and acting led Dorothy through Munchkin Land, across the yellow-brick road, against the Wicked Witch and her Flying Monkeys, to Oz, and back home in Kansas. An engaged audience, filled with affectionate parents, equally praised both Green and Blue casts with standing ovations. In all honesty, the traditional and time-transcending The Wizard of Oz was impressively performed and put in place by Stage Left Productions’ two casts, managing team, and crew.
Among humor, beauty, and a talented group of children, The Wizard of Oz recalls its immortal moral bringing summer into reality: “No matter how far away you go and how many friends you make, there’s no place like home.”