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Show Palace follows the yellow brick road to 'Oz'

HUDSON

The grass may be greener in the Emerald City, but "there's no place like home" is the constant theme threaded through The Wizard of Oz, the classic story about a girl from Kansas who has been launched by a tornado on a dream of a journey with her dog, Toto, and a cast of characters all in search of something they've been missing.

The story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written by L. Frank Baum in 1900 and lives on in a series of incarnations. Baum's children's novel spawned Broadway productions and theatrical adaptations, a classic movie starring Judy Garland as Dorothy and still more theatrical spin-offs including The Wiz and Wicked. Add to that a couple of animated movies — Journey Back to Oz (1974) featuring Garland's daughter Liza Minnelli as the voice of Dorothy and The Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (2013).

This weekend, The Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson gives a nod to Baum's classic story and in a sense of good timing, the upcoming 75th anniversary of the MGM movie, which was released in August 1939.

The Show Palace version of The Wizard of Oz is based on the classic film, featuring the beloved characters making their way down the yellow brick road to Oz with Dorothy and her ruby slippers.

Serving as director is Jill Godfrey, who also takes a turn on stage as the not so beloved Wicked Witch of the West and Almira Gultch. Choreography is by Megan Morgan (La Cage aux Folles).

Oz features timeless tunes such as Over the Rainbow, Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead, If I Only Had a Heart, with musical direction by Bill Cusick. He has musically directed shows at the Showboat Dinner Theatre in Clearwater and Bartke's Dinner Theatre in Tampa and presently teaches voice and piano at Ruth Eckerd Hall and accompanies their children's and center stage choirs.

Molly Ann Ross (La Cage aux Folles) stars as Dorothy, with a dog named Mocha playing Toto.

As in the film, other cast members take multiple roles. Rick Kistner plays Uncle Henry and Winkie General; Andi Sperduti is Auntie Em and Glinda; Nick Landmesser is Hunk and the Scarecrow; Charles Logan is Hickory and the Tinman; Jason Sofge is Zeke and Lion) and Tom Bengston does a three-turn on stage as Professor Marvel, the Oz Gatekeeper and the Wizard of Oz.

Children's ensemble includes Micayla McLaren, Levi Boler, Max Brasier, Katherine Hines, Evana Foisy, Vivian Foisy, Mia Foisy, Lorenzo Guarino, Louis Romeo and Taylor Cofield.

Michele Miller can be reached at miller@tampabay.com.

.if you go

The Wizard of Oz

The musical is presented Thursdays through Sundays, May 10 through June 15, at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre, 16128 U.S. 19. Tickets are $49.50 for dinner and show; $19.50 for show only. For show times and tickets: showpalace.net, (727) 863-7949.

Show Palace follows the yellow brick road to 'Oz' 05/07/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 6:43pm]
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