by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
Never has an Elk River theatre audience gotten closer to the action than at Spectrum’s “Wizard of Oz” opening Friday night. Along with watching the play unfold right in front of them, the near-capacity crowd also was won over by a charming and funny performance by Dorothy (Susan Newberger) and the familiar array of characters including Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, good and bad witches, talking apple trees, an amazingly cooperative, quiet and cuddly dog who played Toto.
The audience, seated in four quadrants of chairs spaced around a crossroads of yellow brick roads, watched the story unfold on four different locations — the two roads, the stage, and the back of gymnasium, where Dorothy’s picket-fence house stood, when it wasn’t whirling around to depict the Kansas tornado, one of several interesting special effects.
Director/producer Jesse Wagner made a bold decision to use the whole gymnasium in a form of theatre-in-the-round and it must have taken an enormous amount of planning — while utilizing the various talents of 75 students, teachers, and parent volunteers — to pull it off, but pull it off they did. Wagner’s director’s notes in the program included: “Our show tonight is a culmination of countless hours of building, painting, sewing, shingling, assembling, lighting, gluing, furring, tinning, strewing, pinking, greening, tying, taping, bolting, laughing, crying, sleeping, not sleeping, oversleeping, eating, studying, singing, and, quite possible, just having a little too much fun (if there is such a thing).”
Below are a few more photos from opening night of “Wizard of Oz,” which you have four more chances to see.
Saturday, April 13, 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 14, 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 20, 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 21, 2:30 p.m.
Dorothy — Susan Newberger
Aunt Em — Mary McCarty
Uncle Henry/Oz Guard — Dakota Woolhouse
Miss Gultch/West Witch — Rachel Wiyninger
Hunk/Scarecrow — Ryan Swanson
Zeke/Lion — Travis Bondy
Hickory/Tin Man — Ted Cullen
Professor Marvel/Wizard — Ben Lambert
Glinda — Alyssa Spofford
Munchkin Mayor — Carter Allard
Munchkin Barrister — Marcus Grund
City Fathers — Ethan Aune, Jacob Aune
Munchkin Coroner — Marie Miller
Two Tots — Ella and Jessica Bolles
Three Tough Kids — Aaron Stoddard, Zach Hassing, Stephen Spofford
Crows — Rissa Bolles, Nathan Roberts
Trees — Jordan Marshke, Maddie Hayes, Megan Hassing
General of the Winkies — Josiah Roberts
Munchkins, Ozians, Winkies — Aaron Stoddard, Aly Kraus, Becca Lambert, Cassie Ziebarth, Carter Allard, Ella Bolles, Ethan Aune, Jacob Aune, Jessica Bolles, Marcus Grund, Marie Miller, Megan Kjendle, Ryan Bolles, Stephen Spofford, Zach Hassing, Daniel Bolles, Ethan Aune, Jacob Aune, Jacob Spence, Karsten Williams, Paul Ritari, Josiah Roberts, Katrina Williams, Mary McCarty, Megan Hassing, Nathan Roberts, Rissa Bolles
Toto — Buddy
Director/producer — Jesse Wagner
Vocal director — Marsha Kirkpatrick
Assistant student director — Chris Bolles
Accompaniment — Michelle Newberger, Ronni Selley
Costumes — Cindy Wiyninger, Becki Bolles, Kris Williams, Suzi Bolles and other parents