Sunday, June 3

Theater Review: Beef and Boards: The Wizard of Oz

Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre, Indianapolis, brings out classic The Wizard of Oz for its beginning summer fare, playing through July 15. Based on the series of books by L. Frank Baum, the story of a little Kansas farm girl transported to a colorful place, one that is "(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow." The tale was made famous by the 1939 MGM film starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Burt Lahr, Margaret Hamilton and Frank Morgan.

With several strongly talented crowd favorites in the cast, this live production is sure to be a hit with the family sector as well as anyone looking for a bit of nostalgia. Main character, Dorothy Gale, portrayed by Lisa Bark, joins her trio of friends played by Jeff Stockberger (Tin Man), Doug King (Scarecrow) and Jayson Elliott (Cowardly Lion). Eddie Curry steps onstage to play both the Wizard of Oz and Professor Marvel. Lynne Perkins portrays the Wicked Witch and Miss Gultch
If the show seems to run a little long, it could be the inclusion of the fun "The Jitterbug" dance scene cut from the award-winning movie version.
Two performers step into the Gotta Go Spotlight by standing out with the energy and enthusiasm brought to their roles.

Curry, whose version of Professor Marvel was a little quiet and sedate, delighted the audience with his animated style as the Wizard. Portraying the phony wizard with just the right amount of vulnerability and sweetness, Curry creates a very likable character.

Elliott practically roars upon the stage with his over-the-top Cowardly Lion role. Solos "If I Only Had the Nerve" and "King of the Forest" are easily the best vocal performances of the evening showcasing Elliott's powerful singing ability. A treat for those who are just now learning of his talent for the first time, fans and critics alike who believe one can never get enough of Elliot's multi facted range. Whether in Oklahoma, Smoke on the Mountain series or Always...Patsy Cline, he consistently turns in top notch performances. Elliott's unbridled enthusiasm set the standard in Oz which the others, surprisingly, didn't match until the second act.

I will say there is a confused disappointment for me with Stockberger and King. Both are well known for their talent which leaves this critic scratching her head as to their laid back performances in the first half of the program. The lack of enthusiasm is perplexing. It certainly isn't as if we are not all aware of the fabulous ability each has on the stage.

Particularly with Stockberger whose dramatic and zany sides are both much loved by audiences; who is able to say so much with just a glance or twitch - the expectation was high. A man made out of tin whose moves are limited should be custom made for Stockberger. Fortunately the energy level was somewhat recovered in the second half. I would certainly enjoy knowing that all retrieved all of their normal zest for the remainder of the scheduled performances.

* Special Note & Spoiler Alert * There are several situations occurring throughout the performance which inspires me to mention the best seats for this show are those nearest the aisles. In particular, seats: R34-35; R44-40; L35/45; and along the aisle of L10/20/30 and A9/19.

Bottom Line: Jayson Elliott is absolute perfection and thoroughly delightful as the Cowardly Lion making Beef and Boards' The Wizard of Oz a must-see.

Photo credits:
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Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as Indy’s Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC, and follow her on Twitter @GottaGo and Facebook. Infused is published on Gotta Go is published on,, in M magazine and the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.


Anonymous said...

I, too, saw the show and loved it! However, I thought you were way too hard on Jeff Stockberger. He has been one of my favorite performers at Beef & Boards for years and has proven that his comedic timing and over-the-top character development are top notch. To me it was refreshing and spoke to his talent to see him bring a tender and realistic quality to his tin man! Not all parts are written or meant to steal the show.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave said...

Hello Anonymous,

Jeff Stockberger has been one of my favorites over the years, also. In fact, I have named him numerous times as one of my Destination Actors.
I simply felt disappointment that the first half of the show the talented actor seemed to have an off night.
I agree with you that not all roles are meant to be the main event and your point he was bringing a tender approach brings a different point and gives me a view to consider.

Thank you!