Bucks County Herald

“Wizard of Oz” on Crossing theater outdoor stage

SUSAN S. YESKE

Nobody can cackle quite like actress Joan Hoffman.

Hoffman vibrantly reprises her role at the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz,” the closing show for the abbreviated summer season of the Open Air Theatre in Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville, N.J.

This fall, the acting troupe moves to its new indoor quarters in the Music Mountain Theatre outside Lambertville, N.J. In the meantime, “The Wizard of Oz” continues for two more weekends at the outdoor amphitheater in the park.

Hoffman is not alone in reprising a role in the classic family show. David McCloughan has returned to ham it up as the Cowardly Lion, singing “If I Were the King of the Forest,” and David Whiteman combines poise, kindness and bluster to again portray Professor Marvel and the Wizard of Oz.

Jordan Burnett is delightful as the lovable scarecrow, and on opening night you could hear a soft murmur in the audience as they sang along with his terrific rendition of “If I Only had a Brain.”

Tom Mullin tap-dances his way through the role of the Tinman, and Carrie Nelson takes on the roles of Auntie Em and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North.

This year’s production has two local actresses sharing the starring role of Dorothy, the Kansas girl who travels over the rainbow to find happiness in her own back yard.

On the night I visited, Taylor Rae Carter of Lambertville, N.J., took on the role; on alternating nights Makenna Stergion of Yardley performs.

Both are longtime members of the Downtown Performing Arts Center and have held minor roles in past performances of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Carter was impressive during her performance and was spot on with every note of the challenging “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” as well as while dancing her way down the yellow brick road singing “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” No doubt Stergion is equally impressive on her nights.

This is a show with a guaranteed happy ending, which is something we need during these troubled times. It’s also a sweet serving of nostalgia with its familiar songs and characters. Even if you have seen the movie many times, a live performance offers something special.

Plus, the stage show has the fabulous “The Jitterbug” song, with expert jitterbugging by the show’s “jitterbugs.” This delightful number is testimony to the talents of Sharon Rudda, choreographer of the show who also dances her way through the Snow Queen’s role.

Go, and have a good time. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast beforehand.

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