Chicago theater stages are brimming with traditional holiday shows through the end of the year. That's why this season's new show at the Paramount Theater in Aurora is a fresh take for the whole family.
Instead of the 100th production of "A Christmas Carol" or "Nutcracker" for the holidays, the Paramount's latest, The Wizard of Oz", is the perfect treat for a family night out.
It's just right for kids, a nostalgic blast for the grown ups -- hitting all the right notes with the familiar songs and characters -- and is a loving adaptation of the movie classic, that includes a scene originally intended for the film that was cut out.
Credit the performances that are spot-on and beautifully performed, from Elizabeth Stenholt as "Dorothy," Kyle Adams as the like-able and limber "Scarecrow," Carl Draper as the wise "Tin Man," Paul Jordan-Jansen as the ferocious yet lovable "Cowardly Lion" and Caron Buinis, who is terrific as the "Wicked Witch of the West." Each actor perfect in their roles.
Add in the creative use of life-size puppets and special effects to create all the fantasy, like talking trees, flying monkeys, tornadoes and the land of Oz. All full of imagination, even if the show starts slow and muted before it explodes into color, magic and fun. It's a show that won't scare the little ones as much as it will engage their imaginations.
I'm highly recommending it, and give it a "Dean's List: A."
Catch it at the Paramount in Aurora through Jan. 6.