Most of us are fans of the The Wizard of Oz film that debuted on television in 1939. However, The Puppet Co. production is mainly based on the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz written by L. Frank Baum in 1900. There’s even a nod to the 1902 Broadway musical version with the puppet theatre’s opening scene at the Kansas State Fair.
If you read the book, you discover that Dorothy’s shoes were silver. Naturally, the witch added a bit more suspense and fear and the ruby red slippers added more color on film. Other changes from the film version include the cowardly lion helping his friends jump across a gorge, Dorothy doing chores after melting the witch and the skip-to-my-lou song “We’re Off To See The Wizard.” The field of poppies is cleverly portrayed using red umbrellas while field mice free the friends from their slumber. After enjoying this version of the production, I want to grab a copy of the book to uncover other original details.
The puppet show adds dramatic effects with the wizard taking on a menagerie of unusual and sometimes odd faces. The majority of the children were not frightened by the images. The puppets and costumes are always detailed and I likened the flying monkeys faces to those from Planet of the Apes films.
I’ve seen a few shows at The Puppet Co., but what was different this time is the different style of puppetry on display. Bunraku is a Japanese form of puppetry in which the heads and hands are of puppets, but the bodies and costumes are constructed by puppeteers. One of the early scenes has a pair of munchkins thanking Dorothy for saving them.
The munchkins have human heads (the puppeteers) and puppet costumes to resemble their bodies. I had never heard of this style of puppetry, but the audience, including myself, found it to be a hilarious twist to the show. You see Bunraku throughout the show with the larger than life lion.
Joshua Aaron Rosenblum plays several characters, but mainly the Tin Man. Every time he screeched from rusting, it sent a burst of laughter into the audience. As if it wasn’t funny enough, a young boy in the audience said, “not again!” Rosenblum’s voice reminded me of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory…another man after a heart.
Christopher Piper’s dry humor has received him accolades throughout his career. When the wizard takes off the scarecrow’s head to give him a brain, the tin man says, “what are those pins and needles sticking out of his head?” The wizard replies, “it’s to show how sharp he is!”
What are you waiting for? Get your tickets now and head off on a magical journey this summer with The Puppet Co.!
- Tickets are just $12 and can be purchased in advance or on the day of the show. Doors open to general seating 10 minutes before hand.
- Children are encouraged to sit on the floor while grown-ups can resort to comfy couches.
- Photography is not allowed during the show, but there is a photo op with a few puppets post-show outside the building.
- The Wizard of Oz runs just under an hour and is recommended for ages 4-11, but many adults thoroughly enjoyed the performance.
- For the littles, take in a different, shorter show for Tiny Tots at 10 a.m. on select Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $6 for all ages.
- An American Sign Language Interpretation show will be held on July 9 at 1 p.m.
- While at Glen Echo Park, take in the playground, a ride on the carousel, grab a bite at Pralines café and relax in the picnic area.
- The Wizard of Oz continues until July 23, 2017. Performances are held Thursdays and Fridays at 10 and 11:30 a.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tickets are $12 and under 2 are admitted free.
Photos courtesy of Kathleen Molloy.