Journey down the yellow brick road as La Comedia Dinner Theatre presents L. Frank Baum’s classic tale of “The Wizard of Oz” through Sunday, Aug. 28 in Springboro.
One of the most beloved, humorous and meaningful pieces of Americana, “Wizard of Oz” weaves endearing themes of connection, perseverance, teamwork, and self-esteem in its relatable account centered on Dorothy Gale of Kansas. As Dorothy valiantly attempts to navigate the unknown in Oz, her journey to the Emerald City to meet the great, mysterious Wizard is bolstered by her friendships with the Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion. Along the way, this friendly foursome encounters a Wicked Witch, cute Munchkins, flying monkeys, and more as their whimsical adventures ultimately provide life-changing epiphanies.
“When the Wizard gives Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman, and Cowardly Lion their gifts it’s a signature moment,” said director/choreographer Chris Beiser. “What I love about the story the most is the fact that everyone already has the gifts they’re looking for, but it took somebody to come along and help bring it out of them. A person already has courage, but you just have to discover it in yourself. And of course Dorothy’s statement that there’s no place like home is so true. No matter how many times you go on vacation or how many times you go away for some reason or another there’s nothing like being in the comfort of your family and friends at home.”
Leading a large cast of over 50, including a double-cast assortment of youngsters as the Munchkins, are Meghan Gratzer as Dorothy, Brian DiRito as Hunk/Scarecrow, Cameron Lucas as Hickory/Tinman, Matthew Bautista as Zeke/Cowardly Lion, Lindsay Kopp as Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch, Karie-Lee Sutherland as Glinda, Alan Kootsher as Professor Marvel/The Wizard, and Chris Kramer as Uncle Henry/Guard. Sutherland and Kramer were particular standouts last season as Mother and The Old Man in LaComedia’s outstanding regional premiere of “A Christmas Story: The Musical.”
Beiser’s artistic team includes musical director Lloyd Butler, lighting designer Geoffrey D. Fishburn and costume coordinator Emercita Erb. Flying effects are provided by ZFX, Inc.
The fantastic, unforgettable score by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg includes “Over the Rainbow,” “Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead,” “If I Only Had a Brain,” “We’re Off to See the Wizard,” “Merry Old Land of Oz” and “King of the Forest.”
“Each scene is a spectacle and the costumes are particularly gorgeous,” Beiser added. “I just really hope parents still have an interest in taking their children to see ‘Wizard of Oz.’ I still remember watching the movie every year on TV when I was growing up. Hopefully this show allows people to take a break from the computer or video games for a while and remember the value of classic movies and musicals.”
In related news, La Comedia is preparing a super trouper of a season for 2017. The lineup consists of “Steel Magnolias” (Jan. 19-Feb. 26, 2017), “Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas” (March 2-April 23, 2017), “Sister Act” (April 27-June 18, 2017), Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” (June 29-Aug. 20, 2017), TBA (a mega Broadway hit seen by over 54 million people worldwide to be announced March 13, 2017 and slated for Aug. 24-Oct. 28, 2017), and “Timeless Memories of Christmas” (Nov. 1-Dec. 31, 2017). Renewal for current subscribers has begun. New subscriptions go on sale July 25. All 2017 ticket sales are open to the public beginning Aug. 1.
“Next season has it all,” Beiser noted. “We’re going to offer disco, Disney and a great, well-rounded range of emotions that will hopefully have audiences laughing, crying and on their feet clapping to the music.”