Ms. Urbaniak and her dog, Clark, will play Dorothy and Toto.
Drawing on “munchkin” talent from the local elementary school, the Walter Gloor Mainstage Series at SUNY Fredonia will close its season with a magical production of the beloved musical, “The Wizard of Oz,” opening Friday, April 21, and continuing April 22, 27, 28, and 29 at 8 p.m. in Marvel Theatre at Rockefeller Arts Center.
Tickets are available at the Central Ticket Office in the Williams Center, (716) 673-3501. “The Wizard of Oz” is sponsored by Midtown Realty. A matinee performance scheduled for Sunday, April 23 is sold out.
Based on the book by L. Frank Baum, John Kane’s stage adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” will be directed by Dr. James Ivey, chairperson of theatre and dance, and will include the songs from the 1939 MGM motion picture, scored by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg.
Dr. Paula Holcomb, director of bands at the Fredonia School of Music, is musical director and orchestra conductor. She will lead the ensemble through such unforgettable songs such as “Over the Rainbow” “Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead,” “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” “If I Only Had a Brain,” “The Merry Old Land of Oz” and many others.
“The Wizard of Oz” is choreographed by Theatre and Dance Professor Helen Myers. Theatre Professor Curtis Phillips designed the colorful, elaborate sets for the production. The onstage technical and special effects – “with trap doors, flying effects and all sorts of stuff too numerous to mention,” said Dr. Ivey – was masterminded by Theatre Professor Stephen Rees. SUNY Fredonia student Michael Barczys has provided the lighting design. He is a senior from Holland, N.Y., completing a fine arts degree in production design.
The musical will be familiar to all Oz enthusiasts. It stars senior musical theatre major Jenna Urbaniak of Baden, Pa., as Dorothy, following her after she and her dog (Toto is played by Ms. Urbaniak’s own pet dog) are literally swept away from the troubles at her Uncle Henry’s (Justin Wodicka, a junior from Queensbury, N.Y., majoring in musical theatre) Kansas farm. Dorothy lands in the wonderful world of Oz, where she accidentally frees the enslaved Munchkins but draws the ire of the Wicked Witch of the West (Kara Infantolino, a senior from Rochester, N.Y., majoring in musical theatre).
In order to return home, Dorothy follows the advice of the good fairy, Glinda (Colleen Benedict, a junior from Binghamton, N.Y., majoring in acting), and follows the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City to petition the mysterious Wizard (Dan Lendzian, a senior from Warwick, N.Y., majoring in acting) for the secret route back to Kansas. Along the way, she gains a trio of traveling companions – the Scarecrow (Eric Deiboldt, senior from Albion, N.Y., majoring in musical theatre), who plans to ask the Wizard for a brain; the Tin Man (Adam Thatcher, a senior from Milan, Ohio, majoring in musical theatre), who hopes the Wizard can give him a heart; and the Lion (Steve Copps, a senior from East Syracuse, N.Y., majoring in musical theatre), who needs the Wizard to give him a shot of courage.
“We are having a great time putting this show together,” said Dr. Ivey. “It’s fun to see this musical live, rather than by (cinema stars) Judy Garland, Ray Bolger or Burt Lahr. This cast is really strong, and they will make the most of it.”
“The Wizard of Oz” will also feature a number of students from the Fredonia Elementary School in the role of Munchkins. The youngsters, all members of the school’s Select Choir, were recruited for the production with the help of Laurie Tramuta, music teacher for the Fredonia Central School district. They have been practicing since last fall.
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