If you want to see absolutely perfect family theatre, head to Prince Charles Park to take in The Wizard of Oz. It's a challenge to know where to start in this review. Every aspect of it, from the set to the costumes to the cast, is superb.
Dusan Magdolen's adaptation of the classic L. Frank Baum tale brings new characters to the story, but they all seem to fit in with the world of Oz. Perhaps that's because in our minds, Oz is a land where any type of creature could live, from the munchkins to the wizard, but Magdolen brings these new inhabitants into that world in a seamless way.
Magdolen has spent plenty of time on stage, but this is his first trip into the art of adapting plays and it is a other theatrical area where he excels. It will be interesting to see what he takes on as his next project.
Melissa Thomas directs the play and, with each year she spends with the theatre company -- she is now it's artistic director -- she has shown more confidence and skill. Thomas has built a talented ensemble for this production and its partner show, Munsch Upon A Time, something that was evident in the first preview, which went off with few hitches. The few that arose were handled with skill -- one ad lib in particular made the missed piece of script seem like it belonged -- and it speaks to her vision when she's at the helm of a production.
Then there's the cast. Valleyview secondary graduate Randi Edmundson brings a sassy, confident Dorothy to the land of Oz. She's also the creator of the puppets for both productions and, if Toto is any indication of her talent, Munsch's puppets will be entertaining. The scene where she and Toto meet the Tin Man brings a delightfully one-off laugh in particular.
Back in 2014, a KTW review of The Beaux Stratagem singled out Andrew Cooper and Wyatt Purcha as talents to keep an eye on as their careers moved forward.
These performances show why the pair is simply great. Cooper has what should be a minor role as the Monkey King and those scenes have him paired with Allandra Barton as the Wicked Witch of the West. She is another strong actor and the two of them together are a joy to watch.
Mack Gordon is the one Canadian Actors Equity actor in the production -- he's also directing Munsch -- and he brings a confidence to the stage, but the other actors match him in every scene.
I've watched Josh Sunderman also grow in his skills through his years and, in Oz as the Scarecrow, he brings a physicality and self-assuredness to the role that shows he's picked the right career.
Rounding out the cast are Brooke Ballam, Maddison Hartloff, Morgan Benedict and Brittany McCarthy and each adds their own magic to the production.
Space limits this review so, suffice to say, Marian Truscott, Cindy Wiebe and Susan Dixon have created great costumes, Cooper's choreography is adorable, Taran Waterous has the sound nailed, Denise Anderson's makeup completes each character and Joe Feenstra and Travis Hatt have built wondrous landscapes of Kansas, Oz and the Emerald City.
The two plays make up this year's X-Fest, which continues in Prince Charles Park until July 30. Most performances start at 7 p.m. There are also Saturday matinees, but no shows on Sundays. Tickets are at the Kamloops Live box office, 1025 Lorne St., 250-374-5483, kamloopslive.ca.