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'Wizard of Oz' Soars

May 4, 2012 - Phyllis Sigal
"The Wizard of Oz" wasn't Bill Cornforth's first choice for Wheeling Park High School's spring musical.

But, it may well have been the best choice.

With the new J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center, Cornforth — drama teacher, speech coach and spring musical director extraordinaire — wanted flying in the production.

He chose "Peter Pan," but with Cathy Rigby taking the show on the road, the rights were not available to community and school performances. So he chose "The Wizard of Oz," instead.

"The Wizard of Oz," has lots of flying .... witches — good and bad — a twister, bicycles, a hot air balloon and of course the notorious flying monkeys. Everyone loves the flying monkeys!

All of the flying was completely believable, smooth and well incorporated into the show.

The special effects and sets were incredible, especially the Wizard with his bright, red, lighted eyes, and the meeeellllllllttttttttttttttttting Wicked Witch of the West. That was my favorite part.

I'm sure the first production mounted in the new performing arts center was quite a challenge for the theater department, but they succeeded in making it a wonderful experience for the enthusiastic audience. Everything sounded good and everything looked good. If there were any glitches, I think they must've gone unnoticed by most in the audience.

And of course, the Park Players performed wonderfully as always, but clearly the star of the show was Toto, played so realistically by Ringo Cornforth. Every time Ringo came on stage, you could just feel the audience's "aaahhhhhh." No wonder Dorothy risked everything for that little doggie.

Great job, cast, crew, orchestra and staff.

And break a leg on tonight's and Saturday's performances!


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