Photos courtesy of Valerie Goldston
Scarecrow (Ben Nickols), Cowardly Lion (Randy Trisler), Tin Man (Roger Speidel), Dorothy (Sarah Edmonds), Sheba Marie Jangles.
“The Wizard of Oz” comes to life at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Dunham Hall on Wednesday, July 16, as the final summer offering for Summer Showbiz 2014.
Young Dorothy, like so many girls her age, dreams of what lies over the rainbow. One day a twister hits Dorothy’s Kansas farm and carries her away – way over the rainbow – to another world. Join Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and Toto, too, as they travel the universe within Dorothy’s imagination.
“As a director who enjoys working in the musical comedy genre, it is an added pleasure when I can be involved with one of my favorite musicals,” said longtime Summer Showbiz director Peter Cocuzza. “Like many, I grew up watching 'The Wizard of Oz' on TV. It was even more fantastic after my family got our first color television set, and we waited with anticipation for the moment Dorothy stepped out of her black-and-white Kansas house into the color-filled world of Munchkinland. It was magical then, and it still is.”
There are two versions of “The Wizard of Oz.” Both include the songs “Over the Rainbow”; “Munchkinland (Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead)”; “If I Only Had A Brain, If I Only Had A Heart, If I Only Had The Nerve”; “We’re Off To See the Wizard (Follow The Yellow Brick Road)”; “The Jitterbug”; and “The Merry Old Land of Oz.” One is more theatrical in the way it tells author L. Frank Baum’s story. The story and the music are treated by the adapters as elements of a classic stage musical without reference to their use in the film.
The second version is a more technically complex production and uses as much of the aura of the film as possible in order to recreate the sense of the beloved movie in a theatrical setting. It is an adaption of the film for live stage performance. It strives to look and sound just like the famous film in telling the story.
“This particular production of 'The Wizard of Oz' mirrors the movie version quite closely and our artistic team was challenged to find clever ways to bring those visual movie effects to the Dunham Hall stage such as witches that appear and disappear, a tornado, a hot air balloon and several others,” Cocuzza said. “In addition, this version also includes Toto. We debated how to handle this part of the play and ended up fortunate to find Jamie and her Scottish terrier, Sheba.”
Also in this version, the songs include “Poppies (Optimistic Voices)” and “If I Were King of the Forest.”
“After the performance, we invite our youngest Oz fans to meet their favorite characters in the lobby for pictures,” Cocuzza said. “For older Oz veterans, we hope we keep the spirit of this play intact as you remember it and let whatever nostalgia it evokes remind us that we are all young at heart and that anything is possible.”
“The Wizard of Oz” is directed by Cocuzza with musical direction by Dr. Marc Schapman, dance choreography by Omar Olivas, set and sound designs by James Wulfsong, costume design by Nina Reed, lighting design by Valerie Goldston, and property design by Katherine Slovinski with Kourtnee Brenner as stage manager.
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum is adapted by Frank Gabrielson with music and lyrics of the MGM motion pictures score by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg and background music by Herbert Stothart. License agreement is made through Tams-Witmark Music Library Inc.
“The Wizard of Oz” is presented at the Dunham Hall Theater at 7:30 p.m. July 16-19 and at 2 p.m. July 19-20. Dunham Hall is located on the campus of SIUE. This is a handicapped-accessible facility.
Tickets are $15 for adults (18 and older), $12 for seniors (65 and older), $12 for students (with a valid school I.D.) and children. SIUE students with a valid I.D. are admitted free of charge. Discounted tickets are available for groups of 10 or more. All seats are general admission.
For tickets or more information, call the SIUE Fine Arts box office at (618) 650-2774 or toll free at (888) 328-5168, ext. 2774. Visit our website at www.siue.edu/artsandsciences/summerarts. You can send a message to the theater at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SIUE campus is less than 35 minutes from downtown St. Louis or from north St. Louis County. Take I-270 East to Illinois Highway 157 north straight onto campus. Free parking is available on lot E Friday and Saturday nights and Saturday and Sunday matinees. Wednesday and Thursday night parking is designated to Lot B. Go to www.siue.edu/maps.