I wrestled with taking my 4-year-old, Emma to see "The Wizard of Oz," now on stage at Shea's Performing Arts Center. I decided to go for it, mainly because she has watched the movie quite a few times and also has enjoyed a live high school performance in the past.
So, we were off to see the Wizard. And the rest of the gang.
I did wish showtime was a bit earlier (it was a 7:30 p.m. start), but keeping my daughter up past her bedtime (way past) seemed OK this time. After all, the enchanting story is one of the most beloved musicals of all time. This rendition had the same plot, it was just a bit different.
It was funny. Hilarious at times, with a hint of sarcasm from Dorothy and her trio of friends. Sarah Lasko - who plays Dorothy - was fabulous. Her timing, perfect. This performance had all of the classic songs from the movie, such as "Over the Rainbow" and "We’re Off to See the Wizard," and it had a number of new songs that were very entertaining. The set and costumes were amazing.
It kept Emma's attention the entire time. She loved Toto and thought watching a real dog on the stage was fascinating. He did a great job. (You could see Dorothy give him a treat every now and again.)
Length of play and intermission: It was 2.5 hours long with a 20-minute intermission. The intermission gave us time to go to the lady’s room (with a very long line), grab a water and get back to our seats. It was just enough time. Emma couldn’t wait for the second act to start.
Recommended ages and why? Recommended ages would probably be 6 and older. I would say 4 is the youngest and that is pushing it a bit. It is very loud at times, and let's face it - that witch is one scary, well - witch.
Will teens like it? Yes. I think it's perfect for teenagers. They will get the humor that is weaved in, and I think they will appreciate the music and the theme of the show – friendship.
If it were a movie, what would it be rated? PG-13 because of the violence in some parts, like when the creepy flying monkeys and guards fight with Dorothy and her friends.
Is there anything of questionable nature for the kids? There are a few parts that might be questionable. The fighting scenes are a bit intense, but they don't last all that long. The witch is nasty, but Emma and I had a long talk before the show about the fact that it’s all pretend, just regular people in costumes. That talk definitely helped. Overall, it was delightful.
What was the scariest part? The storm scene at the beginning. It was very loud and dark. I could see my daughter covering her eyes. She was on my lap in about two seconds.
What was the big souvenir and what does it cost? There was a stuffed Toto that seemed to be the hit ($30). Because this show is not really targeted to kids, there aren’t as many souvenirs. There were a few T-shirts but not really much more.
Bathrooms: The bathrooms are always clean at Shea's. They’re also always busy. Give yourself plenty of time.
So, yes, there are a few moments that can be a bit scary for little ones, but overall it is an entertaining, wonderful show that lifts your spirit while taking you on a fantastical adventure. The story itself – the whimsical, imaginative story – is such a great message for everyone. I'm glad that we went.
Just remind your little ones that it is all acting and warn them that it will get loud and dark at times. Then, click your heels together and head to Shea's Performing Arts Center for this beautiful story of friendship and bravery.