WIZARD OF OZ - Actors with Cornerstone Youth Theatre are gearing up for The Wizard of Oz next month. Scarlet Puffer Photography

Cornerstone Youth Theatre gearing up to stage Wizard of Oz

Shows running in Red Deer come March

The talented young actors with Cornerstone Youth Theatre are gearing up for their latest show The Wizard of Oz.

The show runs March 2nd, 3rd, 9th and 10th at New Life Fellowship Church, with curtain at 7 p.m. There are also matinee shows March 3rd, 10th and March 11th as well, which begin at 3 p.m.

This beloved tale, in which a Kansas farm girl travels over the rainbow to discover the magical power of home, has been entertaining audiences for generations. Featured classic tunes include Over the Rainbow, Munchkinland (Ding Dong! the Witch is Dead) If I Only Had A Brain/A Heart/The Nerve, We’re Off to See the Wizard (Follow the Yellow Brick Road), The Jitterbug, and The Merry Old Land of Oz.

This RSC version is a more faithful adaptation of the film, explained Stephanie Orr, the show’s director.

“Those who know the show, and who are coming because they have an affinity or devotion to it, they want to see the familiar markers,” she said of the iconic tale. “They want to feel like they are going to the movie.”

A more technically complex production, it recreates the dialogue and structure of the MGM classic nearly scene for scene, though it is adapted for a live stage performance.

Orr credits a marvellously talented and supportive team that both work so hard for every Cornerstone production – the parents included.

“Our parents are so incredibly creative,” she said, noting how they never fail to come up with all kinds of magic to bring each production to sparkling life. “We benefit so much from the blessing of having families that are willing to work together, too.

“Our shows do have a great production value because our parents are so creative and so invested in doing this. So with a show like this, we tell all of our committees, we want to be as true as we can be to the production that everybody loves – and to divert where we can’t afford to be MGM Studios,” she added with a laugh.

Orr said the script they are using is the Royal Shakespeare Company edition, which is closest to the movie.

“There is some additional dance music that has been put into it, but the dialogue is virtually word for word the movie’s script,” she said, adding the cast, ages eight to 18, numbers 64.

“Our challenge, that we gladly accept, is trying to find places where we can make big production numbers in a way that pushes the kids to learn more skills and give them more opportunities to display them.”

Again, it’s all about collaboration.

“Our music director Ashley Miller is just obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. When you have someone like that, they just throw themselves into it 100 per cent. And our choreographer Connie Johnson is just again, giving 100 per cent to get the kids dancing!”

Sometimes, in a youth production, big dance numbers can be trimmed back.

Not so with this gifted troupe.

“We’ve been really blessed with Connie, because she has choreographed them and said, ‘We aren’t cutting them out at all. We’re going to make these kids dance until their socks fall off.’ So that’s made it fun for the kids – just to have that dedication from the artistic team.”

As for the story’s enduring popularity, Orr points to several reasons for that.

“To little tiny kids, it’s a colourful explosion of singing and dancing munchkins. To teens, there’s a bit of that teenage angst – nobody understands me – if I could just go somewhere new, I could start again. And to the adults, it’s Auntie Em and Uncle Henry and the Wizard – none of whom can help the teenager out. All they can do is support Dorothy, but they can’t fix everything for her.”

Tickets may be purchased online at www.CornerstoneYouthTheatre.org or by phoning the box office at 403­‐986­‐2981.

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