Dorothy, played by Brittaney del Toro, talks with Professor Marvel, played by Joshua Nowlin. Hunk, played by Timothy Ranger, and Hickory, played by Kathleen Coughlin, sit to the left of del Toro as Aunt Em, played by Ellie Knodel, listens on. (photo by Deb Cavanagh)
After nearly four months — but only 14 days of rehearsals — the Front Row Players finally debuted its fourth production, “The Wizard of Oz,” on May 12, a vibrant showcase of all the diverse actors and their talents.
Held at Easter Hills Bible Church in Manlius, the expansive church gave the production the full range it needed to take the audience to the Technicolor world of Oz. From the starring lead, Brittaney del Toro, to the jitterbugs and apple trees, all the actors brought wonderfully animated personalities to their characters, with a few standing out in particular.
The show opened with del Toro’s Dorothy at her Kansas home, reminiscing of somewhere far away. From there, it transitioned to the first song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” a touching rendition by del Toro, leading the production off to a magical start.
del Toro shined as Dorothy, taking command of the show with her furry companion Todo, played by Carly Resseguie, who brings a newfound voice to the little dog.
Standout actor Timothy Ranger gave an outstanding performance as the Scarecrow, nailing his lines with incredible wit, vibrato and charm. Even as Hunk, another character he portrayed, Ranger perfectly embodied both characters with such charisma, undoubtedly bringing a new dimension to the entire production.
Christine DiCosimo was another star, perfectly embodying the harrowing character of the Wicked Witch of the West with her animated cackling and body language. Her jokes were sure to elicit laughs from the audience, as she presented a humorous energy to the villain.
By a radical comparison, Brianna Liadka’s sweet portrayal of Glinda the Good Witch sparkled on stage, as her magnificent baby pink dress was a standout costume of the night.
Despite her character’s lack of heart, Kathleen Coughlin gave a heart-warming performance as the Tin Man, and Nick Johnson gave a courageous performance as the Lion, exuding the character’s booming and loveable personality.
Joshua Nowlin played the Wizard of Oz, giving a witty and comical spin to the man behind the curtain.
Amanda Cavanagh gave an animated performance as the Mayor of Munchkin City, her unique voice a monumental part of the number, followed by energetic vocals from Elizabeth Angiolillo and Tatjana Dzodic as the munchkins.
“Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead” was one of their most powerful numbers, with a slew of actors and actresses filling the stage to perform the colorful song. From the munchkins to the Lullaby League and Lollipop Guild, the performers sang the number with the utmost enthusiasm and gust.
The jitterbug musical number was another standout, with colorful performances from Dorothea Malinowski, Amanda Cavanagh, Jessical Jaworksi, Gabriella Iannotti, Ellie Knodel, Stephen Marris, Brigham Boergesson, David Sill, Brianna Liadka and Seth Ezzo as they all donned shiny bug shells. Christopher Barr, Seth Ezzo, Parker Greenwood and Matthew McCrohan even gave hysterical performances as the crows, with Jessica Jaworski, Brigham Boergesson and Dorothea Malinowski prompting laughter from the audience as they plumped the Scarecrow with apples.
For only 14 days of rehearsals, this was an incredible production by the Front Row Players, a powerhouse of dazzling performances from all their actors and an amazing energy exuded from the supportive and spirited audience.
“We are so incredibly proud of our actors who have worked so hard to learn their chorography, memorize their lines and more importantly share their joy of theatre with us,” said Christine Byrnes, Business Manager of the Front Row Players.
“What a great job our actors did,” said Deb Cavanaugh, founder of Front Row Players. “We are so proud of them.”
The next production by the Front Row Players will be announced this August for the Fall 2018 semester.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.