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Posted by on in The Wizard of Oz

Jasmine Harrick has been performing since she was 5, and has been lucky enough to work in productions at The 5th Avenue and Village Theatre, but Kitsap holds a special place in her heart. “It’s more than a theater,” she says, “it’s a community. Because you spend so much time with the rest of the cast – camping, hiking, eating together – you get to know everyone more than at other theaters.”

Jasmine’s experience with KFT began at age 4, when she came with her parents to performances, who were hoping the outdoor environment would be a good counter to toddler fidgetiness. She thrilled at the opportunity to meet the actors onstage and was already a veteran audience member when at age 8 she auditioned with her sister, Eliana, and her parents for Fiddler on the Roof. This began a treasured family tradition of performing together. It didn’t take long for the unique theater to work its magic on all of them. Weekends after rehearsals, Jasmine would head out into the wooded areas beyond the cabin to find secluded glens where she and her new friends from the cast would create fairy houses, explore the trail to Big Tree and Wildcat Creek, or build impromptu carnival rides around the cabin. She went on to portray Lucy in Narnia, Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden, Annie in Annie, and Neleus in Mary Poppins.

That sense of specialness of place and community is one thing that drew Jasmine back to the theater this year, after missing last year due to Village Theatre’s Billy Elliott. “I missed it so much,” she says, “I was just hoping to get a chance to be in a show here again,” so she couldn’t be more thrilled to also get the opportunity to play Dorothy.

Jasmine’s says about playing Dorothy: “I don’t care that she’s a girl really,” she says, “What interests me most are characters who are nice people, who know what they want, and who try hard to do the right thing. It doesn’t matter whether they are girls or not. Before I started working on the character, I thought Dorothy was kind of dull, that everything just happens to her, and she’s like, ‘oh no, help me please.’ That’s not an interesting character to me. My favorite part was always the Munchkins.”

She soon found the role presented challenges, physical and emotional. “She’s on the entire show, so you have to have a lot of energy. And emotionally, she goes through a lot of changes during the show. At the beginning of the show, Dorothy convinces herself that nobody understands or really loves her, and that she despises her Aunt and never wants to see her again. When she’s away from her Aunt and thinks she may be sick, she immediately wants to get back to her, even though she’s in this incredible, remarkable place – and that goal drives her for the rest of the show. Dorothy realizes that she already has what she thought she wanted.”

Jasmine is excited by the novel take that Craig Scheiber and costumer Barbara Klingberg brought to the show. “This is a very iconic show, and I think it’s really cool that they are doing something to mix it up a little bit, but still keep the elements that made it a classic.”

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Posted by on in The Wizard of Oz

Michael C. Moore , May 28, 2017

BREMERTON — There have been many Memorial Day weekends when umbrellas were an integral part of the Mountaineers' productions at Kitsap Forest Theater.

Most years, it was because it was raining.

For the 2017 spring offering, though, the bumbershoot played a huge role in the opening-day performance of the much-beloved musical "The Wizard of Oz," even though the day was every bit as idyllic as the al fresco venue could've hoped. Director Craig Schieber might not have been able to pull off this imaginative, judiciously contemporized version of Dorothy Gale's travels to and from the Emerald City without lots, and lots, andlotsandlots, of umbrellas.

(It should be noted that, even though nothing caught fire, extinguishers also made a star-level contribution. Ponder.)

It's not easy putting on a satisfactory "Wizard of Oz," let alone a superb one, and Schieber faced all the usual challenges of trying to bring a special effects-heavy show into the rustic amphitheater. And, as usual, he manages to get over, around and through most of the potential pitfalls by replicating the bells and whistles as best he can, keeping the performance floor a blur or color and motion and — mostly — just letting the story tell itself.

There's also the challenge of trying to please two completely different audiences. Some — like myself, who grew up watching the annual and much-anticipated telecasts of the 1939 movie version — are so familiar with the book and lyrics that you can see our lips moving. For us, a performance needs to live up to iconic images and generally be the stuff of our fond memories.

But there are also those in every audience who, for whatever reason — they're younger than 5, or spent their lives under a big rock — haven't caught up with this wonderful, timeless fantasy adventure. For them, it's Schieber's job to give them a first point of reference, a "Wizard of Oz" against which all others will be measured in future.

On most fronts, he succeeds. And he does so with a cleverly tricked-up visual aesthetic, which turns Munchkins and Winkies into computer game characters, modernized a crystal ball into a cell phone and an hourglass into a flat-screen monitor (albeit an insufficiently sized one).

There are also the tried and true Forest Theatre tricks of having people portray everything from furniture to foliage.

The look overall — with bouquets tossed to costumer Barbara Klingberg and choreographer Guy Caridi — is a close-enough chip off the old blocks to satisfy the life-long Ozniks, but colorful and whimsical enough — not to mention referentially modern — to grab and hold the attentions of first-timers, even the diaper-clad.

Much of the acting is cursory at best, as Schieber's huge cast was charged primarily with getting through the long, episodic proceedings without bogging down.

But there are some highlights, starting with a delightfully 2017-ish Dorothy delivered by Jasmine Harrick, who's theatrical throughout without being cloying, and makes worthy work of the show's best-known song, "Over the Rainbow." Her singing and dancing also help breathe life into the "Jitterbug" production number (don't look for that one in the movie) that I've always thought was a pain, but quite enjoyed in the forest.

Caridi scores points not only for thorough and fun choreography, but for his rubber-limbed performance as the Scarecrow. Along with Harrick's Dorothy, I think I liked him most of all.

What made the biggest impression on me was that the Mountaineers' "Wizard of Oz," with all its challenges, limitations and distractions (if you've been before, you know the family-friendly amphitheater is often part gallery, part nursery), held the attention of the large, sun-kissed crowd about as well as any show I've seen there.

As measures of success go, especially for a show as big as "The Wizard of Oz" and a venue as challenging as the Forest Theater, that's an important one.


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Posted by on in The Wizard of Oz

Sarah Fairchild is thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Glinda, one of her favorite characters, to life – and to wear a really sparkly dress while doing so! She counts herself very lucky to get to wear what she thinks are some of the best costumes out at Kitsap Forest Theater – if you saw The Little Mermaid, you may remember her as Aquata, the very sassy pink mersister. She is ecstatic to return for a second time to her glittery summer home under the trees.

Sarah is a local lighting designer and actor. She has worked on lighting teams at 5th Ave, Balagan, SMT, Can Can, and Driftwood. She’s also been seen onstage most recently as Beth March in SMT’s Little Women and will be appearing next as Jane in KFT’s summer show Tarzan.

Here’s what she has to say about the enduring nature of this year’s production of The Wizard of Oz:

“When I was growing up, whenever something didn’t go my way or I didn’t try my very best, my mom used to quote The Wizard of Oz. She would tell me that I had the magic slippers on and all I needed was to figure out how to use them.

“I hated it. I thought it was trite and clichéd because gosh Mom, we don’t live in a fairy tale!

“But then I came to realize what she meant. That I – that we all – no matter how badly things seem to be going, can reach down and find the strength and the power within us. That we can use our own power, our talents, and our ability to try harder, to do what needs to be done, and to succeed in our endeavors.

“To me, this is the most enduring message of The Wizard of Oz. This message empowered me to not give up, and to continue to strive to get better despite sometimes seemingly insurmountable odds. Although Dorothy relies on the help of other characters throughout the show – as we all must do in real life – she is ultimately the one who has power over her own fate.

“The most magical moment of The Wizard of Oz is when Dorothy clicks her heels together and sends herself home. She has found the power within herself, and Glinda facilitates that for her. She doesn’t give her all of the answers, but she protects and shelters her, letting her adventure out on her own.

“I hope that everyone who watches this show is able to by empowered by Glinda’s message. You are strong, you are powerful, you have the magic slippers on – you just have to figure out how to use them.”

The Wizard of Oz opens May 28th. Get your tickets now and don't miss out on this heartwarming show.

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