Summer Theater Series: The Wizard of Oz

Growing up in Kansas, you can’t escape it. Go to a conference and tell people where you’re from, and more often than not, you’ll hear “I don’t think you’re in Kansas anymore.” It’s one of those jokes that was funny the first ten times and not so much after that.

Leading up to the Broadway production at Starlight Theatre (the first in their 2014 series), the kids were (quite literally) counting down the days until opening night. On opening night, they counted down the hours. And it did not disappoint!

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The oldest three and I took their grandma (my mom), and made it in time to check out the Yellow Brick Bash*, the activities set up from 6-8pm for the kids to “get into the Oz spirit” before the show. There were several photo ops (and you know how much I love those), crafts for the kids to make and LEGO bins to play in from Legoland KC.

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I’ve been to Starlight before, but I always underestimate the production value of the shows….I’m always impressed by what I see. In The Wizard of Oz, the sets and the costumes are nothing short of spectacular, truly. The Good Witch had an AH-MAZING gown on….like she was dipped in liquid glitter. Going into it, I wasn’t sure how in the world they’d pull of the big tornado or flying monkey scenes, but those (along with all of the others) had awesome special effects and pulled you into the story of Dorothy, her farm family, and her new friends in Oz.

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My seatmate (literally…he sat on my lap the whole time).

But the star of the show? The little dog playing Toto. I’m not even kidding…that little guy** stole the show more than once, and he didn’t get out of character or slip up once in three hours.

Though it was a little chilly and it drizzled on us a couple of times, the night was beautiful. And there’s always something magical about the clouds clearing out and a nearly-full moon appearing just to the left of the stage a few scenes before the end.

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*There are two pre-show events, free to all ticket holders: Starlight’s Yellow Brick Bash is a pre-show festival offering games, crafts, performances, photo opportunities, the Twisted Twister inflatable slide, caricatures and other activities for families and kids of all ages. Located in the group pavilions adjacent to Starlight’s north concourse, the Yellow Brick Bash is open 6-8 p.m. each night. And inspired by Toto/Nigel’s story of adoption success, Starlight is partnering with five Kansas City area pet shelters and agencies to host the Take Home Toto on-site dog adoption event. From 6-8 p.m. every night but opening night, shelter volunteers will introduce adoptable dogs to Starlight guests in the Helzberg Fountain and Garden of the Stars area on the theatre’s east side. Starlight patrons can talk with agency representatives, learn about available dogs and begin the adoption application process if they find their perfect four-legged match.

**According to the show’s press release: “The show’s furry, four-legged star, Toto (aka Nigel), also has U.S. roots. He was rescued in 2008 from the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society by Tony® Award-winning animal trainer William Berloni.”

Tickets for The Wizard of Oz at Starlight Theatre are on sale now for $10 to $95. Tickets are available online at www.kcstarlight.com, by calling 816.363.STAR (7827) or at the Starlight box office at 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, MO 64132. All performances begin at 8 p.m.

I received two complimentary tickets in exchange for a review, but as always, all opinions and views are 100% my own!