Basics: Drunk Theater Buffalo presents “Drunk Wizard of Oz” at Mr. Goodbar, 1110 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo 14222. Sunday and Tuesday through July 25th. Sunday at 3:00 PM and Tuesday at 8:00 PM. Tickets are $25. DrunkTheaterBuffalo.com
Execution time: 1 hour 15 minutes. no breaks.
Thumbnail sketch: Drunk Wizard of Oz is a blend of comedy, nostalgia and interactive drinking. Audiences are encouraged to forget the old rules of traditional theater and sit down with a drink and possibly a pizza. Spectator he must be 21 years of age or older. Adapted by Matthew Littler. Produced by Emily Glick. Directed by Emma English.
Players, Play, and Production: Drunk theater is a concept that has emerged all over the country. There are companies that produce drunken Shakespeare, drunken improvisations, and even drunken debates. At the Drunk Theater, audiences and performers will be drinking all night long, so it could well be a blast. Certainly, no two performances are the same.
Drunk Theater Buffalo produces original versions of classics for children. Last year, “Drunken Peter Pan” was a huge hit, selling out at several venues. The Peter Pan concept intrigued me, but I didn’t get a chance to see it, so I made sure I got tickets for this year’s The Drunk Wizard of Oz. I’m a big fan of The Wizard of Oz, I’ve directed it, adapted it, and played Glinda. So I was very interested in dealing with him in one of my favorite stories in this latest (far left of center).
The show started with a reminder to not drink too much, and everyone took this advice to heart. I didn’t notice any excessive drinking. Most of the audience had a drink and a shot at the bar before the show started, and then things settled. The cast carried mugs and occasionally took a sneak sip.
Director Emma English kept things bright and cheery, figuring out a smart, low-budget way to deliver the special effects needed to tell this story. It has an interesting script by Matthew Littler. I especially enjoyed the sprinkles of Oz insider jokes throughout.
The cast is full of energy and includes Charles McGregor as the deranged wizard, the ever-impressive Marissa Biondrillo as the Scarecrow, and Marty Gertz, who aptly plays the lion as the sympathetic fool. Jeremy Catania plays gravel-voiced Gaylinda and Sam Crystal plays the fun, quirky Tin Man. Amanda Funiciello presents a new take on the glamorous witch in tight skirts and high heels. They are supported by an enthusiastic four-piece chorus of Mike Benoist, Katrina Fulcher-Rude, Stephen Maiseke and Sandra Roberts, who play Munchkins, Crows, Trees and Monkeys.
At the center of all this madness is the perpetually hilarious Emily Redfern as Dorothy. She’s accompanied by my personal favorite, her PK Fortson as the low-key Toto, who’s deadpan throughout the proceedings and a master of well-timed sarcasm.
To add to the fun, there’s singing, dancing, and creative costume touches like Dorothy’s blue and white gingham corset.
Seats are limited. I recommend going to Mr. Goodbirds 90 minutes before showtime and lining up to secure a seat. Plenty of standing room is available for those who are lucky enough to not be able to sit in a chair.
I think this work will probably be sold out and additional performances are planned. Check the website at DrunkTheaterBuffalo.com for the latest information.
The Drunken Wizard of Oz is playful, quirky, and full of laughs—the perfect summer treat.
*HARD OF BUFFALO
One Buffalo: It means trouble. A terrible play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless you have a specific reason to participate (i.e. you are the parent of the person participating), please participate broadly in this show.
Two Buffalo: Fair, but no big shakes. Either the directing is grossly off the mark, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you’re the type of person who’s content with just going to the theater, you might want to look elsewhere.
3 BUFFALO: Still having issues, but a great night at the theater. If you go in without high expectations, you’ll probably be satisfied.
FOUR BUFFALOS: The level of direction and acting is high. If you are interested in the genre and content, I would love to participate.
FIVE BUFFALOS: A really great and unusual rating. A comedy that weakens with laughter, a drama that touches the heart. If this is your favorite kind of show, it would be foolish to miss it.