The Yellow Brick Road was certainly worth following
Dorothy may have been longing for home all through the play but the good thing is no one in the audience was. Over the Rainbow (directed by Kevin Oliver and Judith Roby Bidappa), adapted from the 1939 musical, The Wizard of Oz and staged to celebrate the 125th anniversary of St Francis Girls High School was executed so well, that most people remained glued to their seats long after the final bow.
Dorothy ( Priyanka Krishnan) is a young girl from Kansas City who gets transported with her house during a tornado to a strange new land called Oz. When she lands there, the house manages to fall on the Wicked Witch of the East, killing her leaving behind her magical ruby slippers.
Dorothy is greeted by Glinda (Priya Mendes), the Good Witch of the North and the Munchkins (played by a bunch of lovely little girls) who are thrilled that the evil Witch is dead and hail Dorothy as a heroine. Glinda transfers the magical slippers to Dorothy — not a minute too soon it appears. By the time the transfer has taken place the Wicked Witch of the West (Bidappa) arrives and on realizing that Dorothy has killed her sister swears revenge.
Glinda knows that Dorothy is not safe in Oz and tells her to go home. Dorothy wants to as well, but no one seems to know how she can except the wizard of Oz who lives in Emerald City. Dorothy follows the Yellow Brick Road, which will lead to Emerald City and on the way meets three unlikely friends — a scarecrow (Akshay Dutta), a tin man (Arun Nair) and a lion (Aaron Punnen), who decide to join Dorothy. How the four friends (and Dorothy’s dog Toto) journey to Oz, meet the wizard, battle the wicked witch and finally get what they all want forms the rest of the story.
It ends with Dorothy discovering that her ruby slippers can take her back home and she soon finds herself back in Kansas, wondering if her adventure in Oz was real or just a dream.
The play was perfectly cast with every actor doing justice to his/her role. Priyanka made for an excellent Dorothy—she sang, danced and acted with absolute joie de verve and unflagging energy, making her a pleasure to watch. She got the finer nuances of Dorothy to the T— the batting of the eyelid, the pronounced accent, the exaggerated gestures and the brave child-woman persona. Both the benevolent woman of the world air of the Good Witch and the malevolent evil cackling of the bad are rather good, if a trifle overdone at some stages. The scarecrow is as floppy and jumpy as he should be the tin man as rigid and the lion as trembly as one would imagine a cowardly one to be, no complaints there at all. The sets are minimal—the atmosphere created by a video projector in the background and the lighting. The costumes were excellent as was the lighting. The 100 member choir’s performance was stellar too as was the solo performance of ‘Over the Rainbow’ at the beginning of the show.
Perhaps my only real issue was certain dance sequences that were introduced for no apparent reason into the show. The dancers, a troupe of young men in baggy shorts were adequate enough but their performance didn’t fit into the general theme of the play at all.
But that aside the play did manage to do what it was supposed to do. It drew you into the beautiful Land of Oz completely and created memories of wonderful acting and music that stayed with you long after the rainbow faded away.