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Stage West presents a nonmusical 'Oz' to start the summer season

Stage West Community Playhouse kicks off its summer season with the nonmusical version of the children's story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The show plays weekends June 10 through 19.

The plot is similar to L. Frank Baum novels and the movie, but without the familiar musical numbers and with several new characters.

"We decided with the children's shows, one should be a play and the other a musical," said director Sheryl Depp. "We'll do the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie Junior in August, and this will be the play."

The show's 26-member cast is mostly children ages 5 and older, with four adults in key roles to be mentors to the teenage cast members, and the teens mentors to the preteens, she said.

The play was written by Michele L. Vacca, whose Chicago-based On Stage! company adapts many literary classics to be children's theater presentations.

Rather than a long, meandering story, the script focuses on the major characters' hopes, disappointments, successes and bravery. It is less than two hours long.

The story begins in a drab corner of Kansas, where Dorothy (Megan Berube) is swept away by a tornado into the colorful land of Oz. She meets the Scarecrow (Louis Bermudez) who thinks he needs some brains; Tin Man (Dominic Valentin) who wants a warm heart; and Lion (Jonathon Linstad), who thinks he is a coward, and they begin their journey to Oz in search of the Wizard who can help them. Though Dorothy does want to go back home, she isn't so much homesick as she is curious about friendships, loyalty and self-regard.

The foursome encounters the beautiful witch Glinda (Patty Villegas, HAMI as Mrs. Sowerberry in Oliver), who gives Dorothy a pair of magical ruby slippers to protect her.

Then they meet the Wicked Witch (Rose DeAngelo) and her two evil sidekicks, Hocus (Stephanie Cooper) and Pocus (Emilee Keough), who vow to hinder their journey.

"We don't have any flying monkeys," but Hocus and Pocus do play up to the Wicked Witch and do her bidding, Ms. Depp said.

Dorothy and her pals find their way to the Golden City of Oz, where they meet the Gatekeeper (Stephanie Cooper), Oz (Gary Depp, Jonathan in Arsenic and Old Lace), and Oz's two sidekicks, Osma (April June) and Ogma (Tiffani Maclean).

Along the way, they run into the Poppies, live "Trees," and then the many Munchkins in Oz.

"We have lots and lots of costumes," Ms. Depp said. Designers have recycled sets from previous shows.

"Everyone has pitched in to help," she said, including her art students at Shady Hills Elementary, who volunteered to help paint the poppies.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a play

Where: The Forum at Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill

When: 8 p.m. June 10, 11, 17 and 18 and at 2 p.m. June 12 and 19

Tickets: $10, reserved seating. Box office is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and an hour before each performance. Call (352) 683-5113.

Stage West presents a nonmusical 'Oz' to start the summer season 06/02/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 2, 2011 5:50pm]
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