Freshman play “Oz” puts a modern spin on a magical classic



“Oz” differs from the original “Wizard of Oz” in many ways, including by having Beth as the main character instead of Dorothy.

A full house of parents, upperclassmen in the drama society and many more hunkered down on Oct. 27 in 22 Tappan’s theater to watch a truly new and often heavily absurdist take on “The Wizard of Oz” for 2022’s freshman play, simply titled “Oz.”

To put a more original twist on the classic story of “The Wizard of Oz,” “Oz” follows Beth (Audrey Navarrete), a young girl who recently lost her sister Jill (Ellie Tytell) in a car accident she feels responsible for. Beth is quickly transported to Oz from her attic during Jill’s funeral, and, after being dressed up by a very fourth wall-breaking group of fashionistas in the tornado, Beth arrives in Munchkin town.

Starting at this point of the play, the absurdism instantly takes hold. The very enthusiastic Munchkin Mayor (Derek Matos) informs Beth that there is no longer a yellow brick road to the Wizard as the Munchkins had a financial crisis and had to sell the road to foreign investors. Beth is told she’ll die on the way there and the Munchkins skip off of the stage.

Beth goes on to recruit the classic Cowardly Lion (Luke Garvey), the happy-in-their-blissful-ignorance Scarecrow (Adele Kaufman-Schulz), and the stupendously rude Tinman (Lila Hoffman), as she heads towards the charismatic Wizard (Sammy Lipton).

The greatest stroke of genius for “Oz” is the tone. Instead of placing these young actors in a serious setting or traditional backdrop, Director and Choreographer Elena Maimonis put them in a truly silly and exaggerated parody of a well-known story.

Beth’s constant remarks about knowing the plot of the original Wizard of Oz and the often crazed versions of the classic characters adds an almost-“South Park”-quality of satirical humor to the whole production.

It was obvious that the actors were giving it their all, such as with Glinda (Victoria Gallagher), who did a phenomenal job portraying a nearly deranged and power hungry version of the traditionally good witch that was both intriguing and hysterical.

Definitely the most consistent act was Garvey’s Cowardly Lion, who sold the truly frightened nature of the character both during lines and while sitting in the back of scenes. Hoffman’s Tinman also had a great performance, as she really made it clear that the Tinman was an absolute jerk through impressive facial expressions.

The fact that all of these actors were freshmen and just entering the Drama Society has to be commended, especially due to the raw emotion elicited by so many of them. It was clear that this was a play of ridiculous characters with truly volatile emotions, and every actor delivered on that in spades with loud and physically expressive performances.

“Oz” was a resounding success; the actors gave truly energetic performances and made it clear that future productions at the school will be featuring them for their next four years to come.