“Wonderfully goofy,” was how one audience member described Showtime’s homage to the 75th anniversary of the movie “The Wizard of Oz” last weekend. This year’s comic melodrama “OZ, the Last Chapter – or – Wishes, Witches and Wizards” served up a plentiful helping of whimsy and zaniness. As always, Showtime was sponsored by the Santa Clara Women’s League. Rick Mauck was this year’s melodrama producer, author and director.
In addition to on-stage entertainment, the Women’s League sponsored a raffle, silent auction and plenty of refreshments (wine and beer courtesy of Santa Clara Kiwanis). The event raised $12,000, according to Women’s League President Emily Adorable. “That’s $2,000 more than we raised last year. The enthusiasm was very high this year,” continues Adorable. “We had more donations than the last couple of years, so all of our prizes were covered by donations.”
In “Last Chapter,” familiar Oz characters land in Doomstown. They’re pursued by a trio of wicked witches (Char Blake, Catherine Dietrich, Janis Parenzin) and their flying monkey (Jessica Farrulla), brewing up mischief on a large scale with a mind-control potion and a giant gorilla, Kong – suggested by a gigantic monkey hand reaching from behind the curtain.
Additional villainy was supplied by “The Wiz” (Bill Schultz) and accomplice Black-E (Linda Sutton), whose scams include a hot air balloon company stock IPO and a non-existent college of wizardry. With tepid approval from Doomstown’s Mayor (Jennifer Citkowicz), these dubious enterprises soon commence operation.
Laura Velasco played Dorothy to a “T” – Aunt Em and Uncle Henry moved to Doomstown and died since we last saw them – while her companions, the Cowardly Lion (Dave Close), Scarecrow (Andrew Hyatt), and Tin Man (Aidan Kline) delivered non-stop laughs with their pratfalls and comical exchanges.
Meanwhile, their fellow Munchkin refugees (Rita Dietrich, Aine Kline, Elaine Lewis, Bev Schuler, Carolyn Schuk) try to maintain their happy-go-lucky spirits, led by the rhyming Mayor of Munchkin City (Linda Clements) and protectress Good Witch Ginda (Pam Morrison).
Hollywood catches wind of Doomstown’s simmering civil war, and before you know it, director Hollerin’ Holly (Polly Halek) and her crew (Melissa McKenzie and Ruth Stephens) appear on the scene to film the shenanigans.
Just when it looks like the witches’ malevolent brew will work, the Scarecrow finds his brains, the Lion his courage, and the Tin Man his heart, and the trio outwits the witches. And Doomstown’s Best – Sheriff Sam (Rick Mauck) and Deputy Pete (Pete Sparaco), assisted by wizarding world secret agents Hermoany Granger (Arlene Rose) and Harriett Potter (Mary Kline) – arrive in time to save the day.
But there’s still one problem on the loose: that giant gorilla. But that’s soon cleaned up by the imaginative film crew, which offers to take Kong with them for a New York show. The show ends with Dorothy realizing that home is where the heart is, be it Kansas, Oz or Doomstown.
Managed by Rosemary Huza, this year’s Olios – variety acts – represented a diversity of local talent. Santa Clara composer and pianist Benjamin Belew opened the show with his piano virtuosity, and Santa Clara favorite Phil Ackerly closed with his signature comedy-magic act. In between, there was plenty of music, dance, and comedy to keep the audience in riveted in their seats.
Pianist Kathy Smith, as always, kept the melodrama action going with her inspired musical accompaniment. Lighting and sound were provided by the accomplished young people of Santa Clara’s Roberta Jones Junior Theatre.
Showtime was founded in 1983 by community activist extraordinaire, the late Cleo Stuckrath.
Sponsoring Senior Wellness: Santa Clara Women’s League
In addition to sponsoring the annual Showtime – an endeavor that takes a team of nearly 30 – the League also delivers holiday meals and cheer to Santa Clara seniors, conducts a toy donation for families in need, and can always be found at Santa Clara’s Sept. Art & Wine Festival, offering hot pizza and cool ice tea.
All the money the League raises goes to provide easily accessible health services for Santa Clara seniors, including health education, health promotion including glucose and blood pressure screening, referrals, information about available services, home visits, and social engagement and support through the Senior Center.
For information, visit santaclarawomensleague.org call the Santa Clara Senior Center at (408) 615-3170.