Broomfield, CO - Despite problems with her microphone at the start of the show, junior Maya Claridge delivered a show-stopping performance as Dorothy Gale in Legacy High School’s production of The Wizard of Oz on Friday night. When Claridge took the stage there were obvious problems with her mic but you would never have known it by watching her. In fact, the 600-seat sold-out crowd was so engaged during her solo performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, you could hear a pin drop. People held their breath to hear every word and then erupted into applause and whooping. Director Karen Stacks wanted the show to be reminiscent of the movie and that’s exactly what it was. Claridge transformed into the Judy Garland we all remember and love, perfecting Garland’s vocal inflection, tone, facial expressions and mannerisms. And freshman Braeden Wilson as the Cowardly Lion gave Bert Lahr a run for his money. Supported by freshman Nathan George as the Scarecrow and junior Jason Neuhalfen as the Tin Man, this foursome made the trek down the yellow brick road an enjoyable adventure for the whole audience. Intermission chatter was all about these four and how alike they were to their movie counterparts. An added stroke of genius were the 36 brightly-colored munchkins ranging in age from 5-13 years old and their 8-minute rendition of Ding Dong the Witch is Dead and Follow the Yellow Brick Road, bringing another eruption of applause. Munchkin Mayor, played by Nathan Jaschke, was particularly outstanding in the scene. Using projections for the first time since it opened in 2000, Legacy raised the bar for a high school performance. The show was packed with surprise pyrotechnic effects and audience enhancement not typically found in theatre at this level. From the moment you entered the building, you were taken on a journey into Oz with yellow brick road paths on the floor leading to the concession booth aptly named the Broadway Bistro, where you could buy lollipops like the ones in the movie and Glinda’s light-up wands advertised to help Dorothy find her way back home. Cardboard cut-outs of the famous Wizard of Oz characters led the way. From the authentic costumes and detailed make-up to the brilliant choreography by choreographer Casey Greenmyer, the show was top-notch from start to finish culminating in a much-deserved standing ovation. The only weak links were a sometimes off-key orchestra overpowering the actors and the disappointment audience members expressed over the fact that Claridge’s microphone was not fixed prior to her dynamic solo. "Her mic was bad from the beginning so I don't know why the director didn't announce the obvious technical problem, fix it and then start the show again," said audience member Allen Shaffer of Westminster, commenting that that would have been a better solution. Despite the frustration level, overall, I give the show five stars and two thumbs up.
Rachel Heston is an independent journalist in Denver, Colorado. Photos by permission of Legacy High School.