COLUMBIA – The story of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” has gone through many incarnations over the years: An American fairytale, a Broadway extravaganza, one of the first technicolor MGM movie musicals, and the 1989 West End holiday musical.
Now, complete with dancing Munchkins and flying monkeys, Sierra Rep is delighted to present The Wizard of Oz this summer at the Historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State Park.
The book is by John Kane, music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. It has additional background music by Herbert Stothart. It is based on the novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum and the 1939 film version written by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf. This production will be co-directed by Scott Viets and Jerry Lee, who previously teamed up for Holiday Jukebox and The Robber Bridegroom. The production sponsor is DSN Outdoor.
A young orphan girl named Dorothy Gale lives on the great Kansas prairie with her Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, and dog, Toto. When the town spinster, Miss Almira Gulch, threatens to have Toto destroyed, Dorothy has no choice but to run away with Toto from the only home she knows. But when a cyclone hits, Dorothy and Toto are transported to the magical land of Oz where she befriends Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. To see how the story unfolds buy your tickets today and bring your little ones to see The Wizard of Oz at the Fallon House Theatre from May 31 through July 21.
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was created by Frank L. Baum, the first of many Oz stories to follow. A huge Broadway spectacular played to great acclaim in 1902. Subsequent silent films about Oz came out through the years until MGM produced their lavish movie musical version starring Judy Garland, Roy Bolger, Bert Lehr, Margaret Hamilton and many more. The film introduced some of the world’s best known music like “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”, “We’re Off to See the Wizard”, and (of course) “Over the Rainbow”. The film was not initially the phenomenal success we know it to be today, that came after many years of theatrical and televised re-releases. In the 1980’s, the Royal Shakespeare Company adapted the screenplay into a proper book musical to play as the company’s holiday musical. The screenplay was adapted again in the 1990’s to play in Madison Square Garden with Mickey Rooney and Roseanne Barr. That production famously toured the US with Rooney and Eartha Kitt. In 2010, Andrew Lloyd Webber penned his own adaptation of the screenplay incorporating original songs along with the ones we all know and love. But the most faithful adaptation to the beloved film remains the 1987 RSC version which SRT will be presenting this summer.
“There are so many expectations with shows like Oz,” said Viets. “It’s a delicate balance in deciding what we want to pay homage to and what we want to re-imagine for ourselves. We don’t want to re-create the movie onstage because … what would be the point of that? What we can do is find clever ways to make visual references to the iconic movie and explore the play honestly and sincerely so we don’t lose any of what makes Dorothy’s story so powerful.”
“It’s a story that is always important to tell,” added Lee. “It’s about a disadvantaged little girl who is put into a position of power and leads with kindness, good will and faith in her friends. It’s a story that’s good for children to experience and it’s a good reminder for adults.”
Sierra Rep is overjoyed to welcome back Jan Leigh Herndon as Almira Gulch/The Wicked Witch, Emily Gatesman as Aunt Em/Glinda, Daniel J. Hines as Zeke/Cowardly Lion, Greg Parker as Uncle Henry/Emerald City Guard, Pat Pinney as Professor Marvel/Wizard and Matt Alpert, Henry J. Flores and Kyle Moses who will play a multitude of roles from Munchkins to singing Crows. Making their Sierra Rep debuts will be Lauren Metzinger as Dorothy, Cameron Chang as Hunk/Scarecrow, Sam Bravo as Hickory/Tin Man, with Yuliya Eydelnant, Morgan Madrid, Jackie Thompson and Nicole Stouffer in the ensemble. The production will also include students from SRT Jr. (SRT’s youth training program) as Munchkins, Poppies and Flying Monkeys. The youth ensemble includes Ruby James, Alice James, Avé Carrillo, Alycia Bunow, Ryan Seago, Juliette Diamond, Austin Paris, Benjamin Diamond, Noah Diamond and Nathan Mabilog.
The production will be directed by Scott Viets and Jerry Lee, with choreography by Maggie Sniffen and music direction by Chris Wade. The creative team includes Sean Fanning (scenic and projection design), Nate Parde (lighting design), Ken Phillips (video design), Lucas Michael Chandler (properties design), Tatianna Covington-Parra (sound design), Diana Newington and Anna Owen (costume design) and Maggie Braun is the Production Stage Manager.