By Buffy Calvert

The ACS Drama Club turned a cold, sleety April night into a world of magic as Dorothy (Michaela Valkavich) was whirled from Kansas to Munchkinland and the Emerald City on opening night of their Spring musical, The Wizard of Oz.

Sharon Tucker and the ACS art classes kept the many, brief scenes in motion by clever, minimalist effects: e.g. Cyclone—young actors twirling silver streamers on a dark stage; Water— sparkling confetti hurled from a giant tub to melt the Wicked Witch who subsides into an unseen chasm; Yellow Brick Road—a sharp pattern down off the stage and up the aisle.

Enthusiastic elementary students, from kindergarten up, delighted as Munchkins, guards, jitterbugs, and crows. (One exceptionally large crow, played by Dr. Chakar, brought down the house.)

Dorothy and her dog, Toto, dreaming in song of “Somewhere, Over the Rainbow,” are propelled by a cyclone from homey, humdrum Kansas and dear Auntie Em (Dusty Richards-Consigny) to land (quite accidentally) on the Wicked Witch of the East. Under threat from her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, (played with acid venom by Lea Edelson) they are directed to Oz by a scintillating Glinda (Emily Andersen) and escorted by the Munchkin Mayor (Alexis Heannings) and her diminutive entourage.

A bit lost on the Yellow Brook Road, Dorothy asks directions from a talking scarecrow, takes him off his post and flop! James Camuti is so boneless, so woebegone, so stuffed with straw we believe in him at once and root for his getting the brains he longs for. Tall, shining and still stands the Tin Man (Stanley Andersen) singing plaintively, “If I Only had a Heart.” And when he weeps we are eager for Dorothy to quickly administer oil drops to keep rust at bay.

The three start off for Emerald City to ask the Wizard of Oz for a way home, brains and a heart when out of a dark, spooky woods springs a snarling lion, which quickly retreats when Toto yips. Hunter Kitchen enchants us as the would-be King of the Forest, humiliated by his own cowardice.

In the city, spotlighted in green, the four travelers beg from Oz, the Great and Terrible Voice behind a curtain, and set off to retrieve the Wicked Witch’s broomstick, the talisman Oz requires.

After several quick-action adventures, Dorothy (again, quite by accident) melts the witch and grabs the broomstick. Together they go back to importune the Wizard.

Toto yanks the curtain. Shane Edwards, as Oz, in spangled blazer and headdress, springs out. He presents a diploma to the Scarecrow, a medal for bravery to the Lion, a pendant in appreciation of good works to the Tin Man and declares them the new rulers of the city. “I’ll take you home,” he tells Dorothy, “the same way I came: by hot air balloon!” A gaudy one lands on the stage. Oz hops aboard. Whoosh! He’s lofted away, leaving a disconsolate Dorothy.

Glinda appears. She tells Dorothy to click the heels of her ruby sneakers (yes!)  She is back in Kansas.

A thoroughly entertaining evening of theater directed by Elaine Smith, Kellie Daino, Lisa Valkavich and John Bernhardt ~