A yellow brick road, wicked witches, and ruby red... Chuck Taylor's? The Hill School's production of the new musical "Love, Dot" is filled with vibrance, spirit, and a strong message: finding where you belong.
"Love, Dot" is a modern retelling of the classic book, film, and musical "The Wizard of Oz." The show, written by Sydnee Johnson, cleverly reinvents the characters into relatable teens. The score, arranged by Christopher Robinson, features many pop songs, truly making this a story of the current generation. The Hill School's Ellis Theatre Guild is the first to put on the production.
Overall, the show was driven by the evident energy and passion of everyone present on stage. There was not a moment when the actors seemed uninterested or as if they were not truly invested in the story. This made the story engaging and easy to follow.
The leading actress, Isabella Moranheras, fully embodied the role of Dot. Her consistently strong vocals and emotional performance sold the character. Dot is a teenager running away from home in hopes of finding a sense of belonging, a description that Moranheras made easy to read.
The supporting and ensemble cast gave the show a sense of liveliness. Meena Ali (Sandy), Meredith Marks (Tina), and Tiffany Lee (Leona) had a clear bond with each other and the leading actor. This bond was proven by their ability to work off of each other on stage and their capability to mesh their vocals together for impressive harmonies, such as the trio "Power/Fight Song." Each actor was individually strong, but their power when together was impressive. Geordie Ravara (The Wizard) was able to fulfill her exuberant role. Her vocals, comedic timing, and stamina were exceptional. Timmy Woodward (Glen) was able to take his initially bubbly role and develop the character throughout the performance. Additionally, each ensemble (notably the Munchkins and the Monkeys) was invested and engaged with the arc of the show.
The behind-the-scenes work was vital to the show's success. Because the show has never been done before, the stage management (Kelly Grable and Nimala Sivakumar) was excellent. Additionally, the choreography, while simple, was effective and well-done. While some vocals were difficult to hear due to loud backing tracks, overall, the sound didn't have many errors. Furthermore, the props (Nimala Sivakumar and Kelly Grable) enhanced the show due to their detail.
Overall, The Hill School's production of Love, Dot was a heartwarming experience. The show itself dives into currently relevant topics such as LGBTQIA+ rights, making the show relatable to many and teaching us all that there's no place like home (where the heart is).
by Leah C. Garofalo of Phoenixville Area HS
They sure like to move it, move it in Love, Dot at The Hill School! Taking their own modern twist on the infamous story of Wizard of Oz, the cast and crew will surely have you convinced to take a trip down the yellow brick road!
Being a one of a kind, these inventive actors and actresses used the best of their ability to turn their dream into a reality. Adapted by Sydnee Johnson, the story follows a young rebellious teenager, Dot, played by the talented Isabella Moranheras, as she travels to one of the last places her mother had been, Emerald City. Along the way, she meets three strangers who soon become what the definition of family means to her, Sandy (Meena Ali), also known as "Scary," Tina (Meredith Marks), and Leona (Tiffany Lee).
"Only in a Small Town" could you meet someone as rambunctious as Dot. Moranheras physicality and expression made for a magical representation, despite having no references for who Dot should be. It is truly no small feat as Moranheras created a character all on her own with just her mind and heart. Not only was her acting superb, additionally, her passionate pipes soared throughout the Ellis Theatre Guild, songs notable being Get Me Bodied and Rainbow Connection.
Alongside Dot, her trio of friends, helped set a humorous tone with their hilarious one-liners and comedic emotions. Sandy (Meena Ali), is nothing short of a star with her bubbly personality, always supporting a light mood and keeping her co-star, Moranheras, in a wishful trance.
Although she "Didn't Want to Show Off," Geordie Ravara, who played the super-star-like wizard, surely did just that with her dazzling outfits and angelic voice. Ravara's advisor, Glen (Timmy Woodward), captivating the audience's hearts with his calculated timing for puns and diva-like behavior.
On the opposite side of the sparkly spectrum, The Wicked Witch of the West, portrayed by the Hill School's own Daniel Schlegal, executed what a villain-turned-hero should genuinely look like. Capturing not only the rag-tag group of Dot and her friends, but also the crowd's attention with his wicked voice in solo Every Step You Take.
A special appreciation is due to the stage crew of Love, Dot, particular Kelly Grable and Nimala Sivakumar, as they and the rest of the crew executed a flawless representation of modern-day life, through one-of-a-kind costumes and awe-inducing lights.
It's fair to say you'll "Get a Feeling" when viewing the Hill School's theatre program. What makes this show so special is the captivating energy of the cast. Productions are all about energy, and seeing this show gives not only the audience a thrill, but indeed also the actors. Telling they can have an exhilarating time on that stage is in truth what makes this production different from the rest. "Don't Lose Sight" of how special Love Dot is, as there will never be anything quite like it!
by Taylor Malone of Conestoga High School
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