Stagecrafters Presents THE WIZARD OF OZ Thru June 22
By Anton Anderssen
The long-awaited show of the year is about to begin at Stagecrafters. I've been staring at my tickets since last November, waiting for this musical!
Complete with flying monkeys and witches, colorful munchkins, and a real "Toto," The Wizard of Oz will run June 6th through the 22nd at the Baldwin Theatre, 415 S. Lafayette in downtown Royal Oak.
Based on the 1939 classic MGM musical film, this stage production will charm audiences of all ages. The story begins with Kansas farm girl Dorothy Gale (Gabrielle Phillips of Lake Orion) who is in search of a quiet place to stay out of trouble. Ornery neighbor Miss Gulch (Elizabeth Schultz of Royal Oak) shows up at the farm and accuses Dorothy's dog Toto (Jo-Jo Troia of Farmington Hills) of biting her leg. She presents Sherriff's orders to take the dog away and Dorothy's Aunt Em (Helen Frizzo of Royal Oak) and Uncle Henry (Bill Glace of Ferndale) reluctantly hand over the dog. When Toto escapes, Dorothy decides to take him and run away so that no one can ever hurt him. She meets Professor Marvel (Ron Otulakowski of Eastpointe) who convinces her to go back home. When she arrives home, a tornado hits the area and causes her to fall and hit her head.
This begins her journey as she travels over the rainbow and into the Land of Oz. She makes new friends - the citizens of Munchkinland and a good witch, Glinda (Randi Hamilton of Ferndale). Dorothy also meets the Wicked Witch of the West who is search of the magical ruby slippers that Glinda has already placed on Dorothy's feet. Glinda tells Dorothy that if she wants to go home, she has to ask the great and powerful Wizard of Oz. As she ventures down the yellow brick road, she meets three new friends - a Scarecrow (Matthew Miga of Ferndale), a Tin Man (Bradley Ellison of Southfield) and a Lion (Jerry Haines of Berkley). The foursome, linked arm-in-arm, make their way to the Emerald City which begins a series of jittery and wonderful adventures! Audiences will enjoy the flying effects by ZFX, Inc., colorful costumes, imaginative set designs and choreography.
The show's director, Randall Wrisinger of Royal Oak, has modeled this production after the classic film. Wrisinger has directed two previous Main Stage productions at Stagecrafters - The Sound of Music and Irving Berlin's White Christmas, and the youth theatre production of Cinderella. "I wanted to do another show that involved youth and adults. I love working with the young people and seeing them grow up in the theatre as well as the excitement that it creates in their eyes," says Wrisinger.
Wrisinger chose to use a real Cairn terrier in the role of Toto. "We are very blessed to have Jo-Jo as our Toto. His human parents, Bill and Ann Troia of Farmington Hills, bring him to all rehearsals, work with him on- and off-stage and are exposing him to the all of the mayhem he'll be part of," says Wrisinger. Jo-Jo was rescued by the Troias from Cairn Rescue USA. They joke that they are a failure as foster parents because once they had Jo-Jo they knew they had to keep him.
The stage production credits include: book by L. Frank Baum with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, background music by Herbert Stothart, dance and vocal arrangements by Peter Howard, orchestration by Larry Wilcox and adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The stage production is based upon the Classical Motion Picture owned by Turner Entertainment Co. and distributed in all media by Warner Bros.
The classic MGM film premiered in August 1939 in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. The cast included Judy Garland (Dorothy), Ray Bolger (Scarecrow), Bert Lahr (Cowardly Lion), Jack Haley (Tin Man), Billie Burke (Glinda), and Margaret Hamilton (Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West). Buddy Ebsen was originally cast as the Scarecrow however swapped roles with Ray Bolger (cast as the Tin Man) who had always wanted to play the part of the Scarecrow. An allergic reaction to the silver make-up used for the Tin Man forced Ebsen to leave the role. His vocals were still used in the song "We're off to see the Wizard." Some of the movie's lines were voted "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premier magazine (2007). "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" is listed the highest at #24.
Kicking off the production's run is the Good Witch, Bad Witch Ladies Night Out Fundraiser on Wed., June 4th at the Baldwin Theatre. The specially themed evening begins at 6 pm with a pre-glow of hors d'oeuvres prepared by Café Muse of Royal Oak, drinks including a 'Flying Monkey Brew,' retail therapy, raffle, costume contest and the preview performance of "The Wizard of Oz." Attendees are encouraged to dress as their favorite good or bad witch. Prizes will be awarded for the best costume in the two categories. The preview performance will begin at 8 pm. Advance tickets are $30 each and available for purchase online at Stagecrafters.org or by calling the advance tickets sales at 248-541-6430. This fundraiser is sponsored by Credit Union Advantage.
Patrons attending the opening night performance, June 6, are invited to attend the 7 pm pre-glow of complimentary light hors d'oeuvres and beverages hosted by Blackfinn Ameripub of Royal Oak.
Advance tickets for performances are $20 on Thursdays, $22 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Tickets may be purchased online at www.stagecrafters.org (online handling fees apply) or by phone at 248-541-6430 using Visa or MasterCard. All seats are reserved. If shows have not sold out, tickets can be purchased at the box office one hour prior to the performance for an additional $2.00 per ticket. Student, military and senior discounts are available for specific performances. The Baldwin Theatre is located at 415 S. Lafayette, Royal Oak. The Wizard of Oz is sponsored by Miner's Den Jewelers of Royal Oak.
Show dates and times follow:
Friday, June 6 8:00 pm
Saturday, June 7 2:00 pm
Saturday, June 7 8:00 pm
Sunday, June 8 2:00 pm
Thursday, June 12 8:00 pm
Friday, June 13 8:00 pm
Saturday, June 14 2:00 pm
Saturday, June 14 8:00 pm
Sunday, June 15 2:00 pm
Thursday, June 19 8:00 pm
Friday, June 20 8:00 pm
Saturday, June 21 2:00 pm
Saturday, June 21 8:00 pm
Sunday, June 22 2:00 pm
Info provided by Colleen Muench
Photo by Lance Luce and Colleen Muench.
Photo by Lance Luce and Colleen Muench.