Spectum’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ opener an up-close-viewing treat

Dorothy (Susan Newberger) dances with Tin Man (Ted Cullen) on the Yellow Brick Road. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

With the audience up close, Dorothy (Susan Newberger) dances with Tin Man (Ted Cullen) on the Yellow Brick Road. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

 

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.

Dorothy and Scarecrow (Ryan Swanson) amid the corn, with audience on either side of them. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Dorothy and Scarecrow (Ryan Swanson) amid the corn, with audience on either side of them. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

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.

 

Wicked Witch of the West (Rachel Wiyninger) arrives to mess things up. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Wicked Witch (Rachel Wiyninger) arrives to mess things up. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

 

REMAINING SCHEDULE

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.

 

Good Witch of the North, Glinda, and the Munchkins comfort Dorothy in Munchkinland on the stage. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Good Witch of the North, Glinda, and the  Munchkins comfort Dorothy and Toto  in Munchkinland, one of the scenes taking place on the stage. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

 

THE CAST

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

CREW

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

"What do you think you're doing?" says a snotty tree to a startled Dorothy when she tries to grab an apple. The trees, who have some funny lines, are played by Jordan Marshke, Maddie Hays and Megan Hassing. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

“What do you think you’re doing!” demands a snooty apple tree to a startled Dorothy when she tries to grab an apple. The trees, who have some funny lines, are played by Jordan Marshke, Maddie Hays and Megan Hassing. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

 

The close-in audience watches a scene with Dorothy, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion (Travis Bondy). (Photo by Bruce Strand)

The close-in audience watches a scene with Dorothy, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion (Travis Bondy). (Photo by Bruce Strand)

 

Aunt Em (Mary McCarty) is overjoyed that Dorothy and Toto are home at last. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Aunt Em (Mary McCarty) is overjoyed that Dorothy and Toto are home. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

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