Review: Hale’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ delivers theater magic

"The Wizard of Oz" (Monday/Wednesday/Friday cast; Ava Hoekstra as Dorothy). Photo: Hale Centre Theatre

SANDY, Utah, Dec. 17, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Scholars at a university in Italy recently named “The Wizard of Oz” the most influential film of all time.

Researchers at the University of Turin in Italy studied more than 47,000 films, and concluded that the 1939 fantasy beat out “Star Wars,” “Psycho,” “King Kong” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” (No. 2 through 5, respectively), among the thousands of others, in part for its technical innovations.

But Hollywood magic of that caliber can be pretty hard to recreate on a community theater or even a professional stage.

Well, the Hale Centre Theatre’s lavish “The Wizard of Oz” comes closer to pure magic than any production I have ever seen.

Sure, the show has a Glinda the Good Witch who flies in on a bubble-inspired contraption and floats around the room, and a Wizard who exits upward by balloon, but that’s just hitting the basics.

This over-the-top show also has a bad witch who circles over audience members’ heads on a broom, human snowflakes who do an aerial routine, and a strobbed laser light show and smoke combination that works as a pretty convincing in-theater tornado, complete with flying Kansas farm house.

And there’s so much more, but it would be mean to ruin all the fun surprises for lucky ticket holders.

The cast is top notch. Ava Hoekstra, as Dorothy Gale, opened the run, with Lexi Mae Walker also starring in the role. Dustin Bolt is blustery and bashful as the Cowardly Lion, a role he shares with Scott Rollins. The Hale double casts nearly all its roles due to its large number of shows and long runs.

(I pause here to tell you that although the show runs through Feb. 2, it is nearly sold out, so maybe you should buy your tickets now, then come back to and read the rest.)

Preston Taylor opened as creaky and caring Tinman, and alternates with Addison Welch in the part. Jordan Dahl opened as limber and loveable Scarecrow, with Kooper Campbell alternating in the role.

There’s also an innovation in how Toto is portrayed.

And a talented and versatile ensemble sings and dances as everything from crows to Munchkins and dancing bugs, to flowers and trees. And their costumes are works of art.

For theater and ticket information, click here.

And because the whole show is so magical, it would be criminal not to share more names of the people who made it happen.

Dave Tinney directs and choreographed the show, with aerial arts choreography by Ramsi Nia Stoker. The fanciful set is designed by Kacey Udy, and the colorful and creative costumes are by designer Jenn Stapley Taylor, assisted by Kim Fitt.

The music director is by Kelly DeHaan; lights are by Joshua Roberts; and props are by Michelle Jensen. Makeup was designed by Eric Clark, with hair and makeup also by Krissa Lent. Sound design by Dan Morgan, assisted by Skyler Morgan.

Producing this million dollar production is Sally Dietlein.

For a full cast list, click here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here