Treat your child--and yourself--to one of the zaniest holiday theater tickets in town at the Pasadena Playhouse. It's the return of that deliciously daffy duo, B.J. Turner and Steve Cassling in their latest spoof for children, "The Road to Oz."
Presented British "panto" style--with broad humor, quirky use of familiar music and loads of audience participation--the show features Cassling as Glinda the Good Witch, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion and the Wizard and B.J. Turner as Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West.
Costume changes are quick and the costumes themselves are rib-tickling. Or maybe it's how they're worn. Cassling earns a roar of delight in his pink tutu and tennis shoes--he's a handsome actor who can superbly clown as well.
But nobody wears a dress quite like B.J. Turner.
As a rather worldly Dorothy, in wiry braids and oversize pinafore, clutching Toto and singing "Tomorrow," or commenting that the ruby slippers are "a bit Imelda Marcos," Turner is a howl.
Both men possess exquisite comic timing, but Cassling and Turner's gifts don't end with their performance--they interact with the audience with masterful ease. Children--and adults--find themselves on stage, playing a tornado, poppies, creatures and Munchkins.
Everyone else gets into the act, too--"woofing" on cue for Toto and entering noisily into any debate between the characters.
Parents are welcome to bring cameras, by the way.
The only discordant note is a tacked-on moral at the end which doesn't fit such an irreverently funny show as this.
\o7 In the Balcony Theatre\f7 ,\o7 39 S. El Molino Ave.\f7 ,\o7 through Jan. 7, Wednesday through Sunday at 11:30 a.m. The pair also performs "Robin Hood" Wednesday through Saturday at 10 a.m. Tickets are $6.50-$10 for one show, or $11-$17 for both; (818) 356-PLAY.
Laguna Playhouse Youth Theatre directors Joe Lauderdale and Scott Davidson decided to stage "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" in a local school auditorium. It must have seemed like a natural.
After all, Barbara Robinson's classic about the tough, cigar-smoking Herdman kids--who take part in a small-town holiday show for the free eats, and discover the true meaning of Christmas--does have an auditorium setting.
But the realistic setting backfires. Battered folding chairs creak with every shift of weight, as spectators seek decent sightlines. Acoustics conspire with novice young actors' rushed dialogue, rendering words unintelligible.
The amateur cast tries hard. Lisa Hale, as a harried Mom, is the most professional.
Little Jillian Longnecker obviously relishes her role as hard-bitten Imogene Herdman, who, upon hearing of the Baby Jesus' plight in Bethlehem, demands to know, "Where was the child welfare?"
The Herdmans' change of heart, meant to touch the audience, comes too far into a long evening. The result is simply a pretty tableau of children in costume. \o7 At Thurston Middle School, 2100 Park Ave.\f7 ,\o7 Laguna Beach through Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets, $3-$6; (714) 494-8021\f7 .