Los Altos Stage Company Presents THE WIZARD OF OZ, Now thru 8/3

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Los Altos Stage Company Presents THE WIZARD OF OZ, Now thru 8/3

The Los Altos Stage Company (LASC) announces its first-ever co-production and collaborative project with the Los Altos Youth Theatre (LAYT),

The Wizard of Oz. A family musical production including both youth and adult performers, The Wizard of Oz opens at the Bus Barn Theater in Los Altos today, July 18 and runs through August 3, 2014.

Written in 1900 by L. Frank Baum, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was the first totally American fantasy for children and one of the most-read children's books (according to the Library of Congress). The 1939 film starring Judy Garland was nominated for six Academy Awards but lost Best Picture to Gone with the Wind. It did win Best Original Song for "Over the Rainbow" which nearly didn't make it into the final cut. The film was reintroduced to the public with annual broadcasts that began in 1956 earning it the title of "the most-watched motion picture in history!"

Among the stage adaptations is the popular 1942 musical that was based on the book and the film using Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg's popular songs. It was commissioned by the St. Louis "Muny" Opera. LASC/LAYT's production is based on the 1987 version by John Kane who adapted the film's screenplay for the Royal Shakespeare Company and that is even more like the film than the Muny version.

Despite the fact that LASC and LAYT have shared the same theater facility for nearly 20 years, the two organizations have never before collaborated on a production or shared production resources in any significant way. Based on the success of this pilot project, LASC and LAYT intend to mount additional co-productions on an annual basis with the goal of creating greater integration and synergy between our two organizations.

In addition to the production, LASC and LAYT are providing the youth performers with a deeper educational experience through a series of four intensive workshops. These workshops are taught by the adult performers in the production, all skilled educators, and focus on singing, acting, movement, and audition techniques.

Through this combination production/workshop format, participating youth have the unique opportunity to work and learn alongside professional actor/educators in a fully produced, high-quality production. The actor/educators serve as coaches and mentors to the younger performers, providing invaluable instruction and encouragement throughout the rehearsals and performances.

The Wizard of Oz is directed by Ian Leonard, a local actor, director, and teacher who has staged productions at Children's Musical Theater San Jose, Theatre in the Mountains, and high schools and middle schools throughout the Bay Area. Adult actor/teachers include Daniel P. Wilson, LASC Associate Artistic Director, as the Wizard of Oz; Sheila Townsend, local actress and vocal director, as Glinda the Good Witch; and Kimberly Kay, local actress and educator, as the Wicked Witch of the West.

Nearly 40 local youth divided into two separate casts fill out the production, including: Osher Fein and Shaina Hammer as Dorothy; Sarah Traina and Natasha Balogh as Scarecrow; Timmy Smith and Dana Levy as Tinman; and Rebecca Krieger and Elizabeth Kristian as The Cowardly Lion. Additional youth performers include: Will Aney, Camden Boyd, Megan Branstad, Rachel Bratt, Emma Burtin, Stephanie Campa, Ashley Chen, Elise Cording, Avery Dean, Isabel Guerrero-Lubarsky, Roxy Karrer, Rohan Kumar, Ronni Kurzion, Paige Lai, Mia Lee, Annie Leonard, Kat Meter, Madeleine Meier, Jamie Minden, Jamie Penilla, Molly Philipson, Catrina Riordan, Simran Sood, Val Swildens, Bella Vandenberg, Peyton White, and Shiva Zokaei.

Performances are Thursday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 pm (excluding Thurs, 7/24), and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 pm. An additional performance will be held on Wednesday July 23 at 7:30 pm. Ticket prices are $15 for youth/senior and $20 for adult.

Opening night gala tickets, which include a festive garden party reception immediately following the performance, are $30 for youth/senior and $40 for adult. Twenty dollars of each gala ticket is a tax deductible donation that goes directly to supporting this project. Please note: There are two separate youth casts for this production and there will be TWO OPENING NIGHT GALAS for The Wizard of Oz, the first on July 18 and the second on July 19, both starting at 7:30 pm.

Tickets are available on-line at www.losaltosstage.org or by calling the Los Altos Stage Company Box Office at 650-941-0551.

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