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Theater Review: 'The Wizard of Oz'
Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN
Maxine Karp effectively leads a huge cast that includes many munchkins and an emerald clad chorus that sings from the balcony.
The Wizard of Oz Hirsch Theater, Beit Shmuel Jerusalem, March 19 Many of the plays performed in English in Jerusalem are community theater - without costumes, backgrounds or props. This is in stark contrast with the Encore Educational Theater Company`s production of The Wizard of Oz, which is a full theatrical performance with all the pomp and circumstance of a Broadway show relocated to Beit Shmuel's Hirsch Theater in Jerusalem. No element was left out, from the realistic props to the music played by an 11 piece orchestra, to the costumes of the characters who looked just like their counterparts from the movie. Even Toto, played by a cockapoo named Sharona Choritz, looked similar to the terrier in the film. Maxine Karp, a new immigrant from the United States, effectively leads a huge cast that includes many munchkins and an emerald clad chorus that sings from the balcony. The children in the play handle themselves professionally, even though they need to speak louder. If there is any criticism of the play, it is that the theater company might have gone a bit too far, crossing the line from "over the rainbow" to "over the top." The costumes didn't have to be so close to the original, for instance, with the chorus wearing fancy emerald green outfits. Perhaps if the props were not so expensive, the seats would not be either. The play's promotional material boasts that the music includes one number, "The Jitterbug," which was cut from the original movie but survives on tape. Apparently, the film's editors made the right move, because the song was out of place, detracted from the plot and unnecessarily lengthened the play. Also, for an educational theater company, it would have been nice if there were more than two 5pm matinees for younger children to experience. But the crowd was made up of kids of all ages, who all seemed to enjoy it, each in different ways. On the way out, the word uttered most often was "wow." The play seemed to have a deeper meaning when seen in Jerusalem, because even though it is far from Kansas, we who live here know that there really is no place like home.
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