While Piccolo Spoleto definitely lives up to its stated mission of providing access to the festival for everyone, those with young children in tow do tend to have fewer choices than the rest of the crowd.
Given that most of the performers in town are grown-ups, the choice for kids and parents is often between watching adults do boring classical things that kids don't want to see and watching adults do really, really interesting things (ahem, Spoleto's Don John) that parents don't want them to see.
Off to Oz, this year's Charleston Ballet Theatre Broadway Dance Project production for the festival, does an outstanding job of combining kid-friendly fun with just enough fine art to keep it balanced.
For one thing, the performers are kids themselves. More to the point, they are kids who have committed themselves to some pretty intense dance schooling. Expect to be pleasantly surprised by the dancing chops demonstrated here.
Christina Slaton, in particular, was absolutely scintillating, dancing the parts of Glinda the Good Witch, the Wizard, and the Emerald Guard. Slaton would not have looked out of place onstage with the professional company; her dance skills were sharp and she radiated confidence and stage presence well beyond her years. Here's a dancer to watch in the years to come.
Melissa Rauton was a force to be reckoned with as the Wicked Witch, toe to toe with Slaton for some the show's most electrifying scenes, and Bree Holstein gave a solid performance as Dorothy.
The show, choreographed by Stephen Gabriel, was bursting with bright colors and snappy, upbeat songs — perfect for holding the attention of even the younger children in the audience.
The costumes, by students from the S.C. School of the Arts, are a lot of fun, and cool music choices such as "I Put a Spell on You," "(Theme from) The Monkees," and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" are an especially nice touch to add to the classic story.
Off to Oz definitely holds its own in family entertainment value. For those dreaming of what may be over the rainbow, this is just the ticket.