Photo Flash: Quintessence Theatre Group Heads To Oz For The Holidays
Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia's professional classic repertory theatre, continues its tenth anniversary season of progressive classic theatre with a heartwarming classic tale for all ages.
The company will bring audiences into the magical land of Oz for the holidays when it presents L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. This classic work will run November 27-December 29. Opening Night is Thursday, December 5th at 7:30 pm. Tickets range from $25-$65. All performances are at Quintessence's home at the Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Ave., Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, 19119. To purchase tickets, visit www.QTGrep.org or call 215.987.4450.
Swept away from her Kansas farm by a cyclone, Dorothy lands in Oz and on top of an evil witch. An epic adventure follows as Dorothy tries to find the illusive Wonderful Wizard of Oz and convince him to show her the way back to Kansas. On the way she meets munchkins, flying monkeys, a Scarecrow searching for his smarts, a Tinman searching for his heart, and a Cowardly Lion who wants to be brave. Dorothy discovers she needs to help her new friends in order to face her fears and find her way home. Quintessence's production will explore L. Frank Baum's original fantasia and will transform the Sedgwick into an unforgettable Oz.
Leigha Kato, who was Barrymore nominated for Quintessence's My Fair Lady is playing Dorothy Gale. She will journey into Oz with three Quintessence favorites, Andrew Betz as The Scarecrow, Barrymore Award winning Doug Hara (Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady) as The Tinman and Jered McLenigan (Stanley Stubbers in One Man, Two Guvnors) as The Lion. After just appearing in multiple roles in Quintessence's Synge Festival, E. Ashley Izard is back playing The Wicked Witch of the West. Izard won a Barrymore Award for her lead role of Winnie in Happy Days at Quintessence. Playing opposite her as Glinda is Leah Gabriel (Frankenstein and Mother Courage). Playing the titular Wonderful Wizard of Oz is John Basiulis (Lucifer in Doctor Faustus). Susannah Hughes (Children's Ensemble in Oliver!) will be playing Dorothy's trusty companion Toto. Jessica Money, Michael Liebhauser and Chloe Mollis-McBride round out the ensemble playing the many magical residents of Oz.
This production will honor both the classic MGM film and the original L. Frank Baum novel. With music and lyrics from the film by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg and background music by Herbert Stothart. This stage adaptation by John Kane originally appeared at the Royal Shakespeare Company. The production is being helmed by Quintessence Artistic Associate Lee Cortopassi who directed and adapted the group's very successful Aesop's Fables. Tom Fosnocht is returning as Music Director and Adrienne Maitland is the Choreographer.
"The 1939 MGM film version of The Wizard of Oz is, to me, a nearly perfect film." said Cortopassi. "To see a musical at Quintessence is an experience like no other. The intimacy of the Sedgwick means the audience will get to go on the journey with Dorothy and her friends. I am hoping to inject Baum's spirit back into America's favorite musical fairytale. Rather than strive to replicate the film, the creative team has found inspiration in Baum's depictions of Kansas, Oz, and Emerald City, imbuing them with wonder and theatrical imagination. It will be everything you and your family love about the classic film and more."
Brian Sidney Bembridge will be transforming the historic theatre into Oz as the Set and Lighting Designer. Kelly Myers is the Costume Designer. Quintessence Artistic Director Alexander Burns is the Sound Designer. Maggie Davis is the Production Stage Manager and her Assistant Stage Managers are Michael Depp Hutchinson and Emily McGregor.
"I want them to walk away from this thinking, wow, I thought I knew what the Wizard of Oz was about...but now...maybe it's something different. I want them to walk away titillated. You should have the same feeling leaving our theatre as you do when you get off an amazing, nerve wracking ride. Heart racing, adrenaline rushing, wanting, and needing to experience it again," said Cortopassi.
The Sedgwick Theater is readily accessible via SEPTA Regional Rail to either the Allen Lane Station (Chestnut Hill West) or the Sedgwick Station (Chestnut Hill East). The SEPTA 23/45 Bus also services the Sedgwick Theater, connecting South Philadelphia to Chestnut Hill. Free parking is available behind the theatre and in the municipal parking lot across Germantown Avenue.
Founded in 2009, award-winning Quintessence Theatre Group uses the classics to explore the fundamental question of what it is to be human in today's world. Through intimate, visceral, and innovative productions of epic theatre, Quintessence pursues its vision to become the Delaware Valley's center for progressive humanism and an engine for radical empathy through the classics.
Quintessence's home is the historic Sedgwick Theater, an Art Deco movie palace designed in 1928 by William Lee and located in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Photo Credit: Linda Johnson
Jessica Money, Michael Liebhauser, Leigha Kato, Chloe Mollis McBride
Jessica Money, Michael Liebhauser, Chloe Mollis McBride, Leigha Kato
E. Ashley Izard