"The Wizard of Oz," the greatest family musical of all times, twists into the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts as part of the center’s Family Series.
Featuring “Over the Rainbow,” “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” “Merry Old Land of Oz,” and other classic tunes by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, the productions transports the entire family to the Yellow Brick Road. There you’ll meet Dorothy, her dog Toto, and their traveling companions—the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow.
After visits to Munchkin Land, the Haunted Forest, and the Emerald City, Dorothy learns there truly is no place like home. This magical production, based on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s celebration of the 1939 MGM movie, is presented with breathtaking special effects and spectacular choreography.
“From the moment the curtain rises, you’ll know you’re not in Kansas…Clemson anymore,” said Lillian Harder, director of the performing arts center.
Twelve local children, all students at Cheryl’s Dance Studio in Central, will perform the roles of the “Munchkins” during the Brooks Center performance. Selected through an audition process, the dancers are Rebecca Mason, Erica Hendricks, Anna Dobrenen, Addison Berry, Marisa Swedberg, Jeannine Martin, Kaleigh Johnson, Judy Miles, Mary Campbell Huss, Mary Alice Match, Mallory Swedburg, and Zarah Fowler.
The story of Dorothy and her friends has been a family favorite since “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” the children’s novel by L. Frank Baum was published in 1900. The first stage version of the book was a musical comedy produced by Baum that premiered in Chicago in 1902. The production moved to Broadway the following year and ran for nearly 300 performances.
In 1939, the musical film adaptation by MGM studios debuted. Directed by Victor Fleming, the movie starred Judy Garland as Dorothy, Ray Bulger as Scarecrow, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, and Jack Haley as Tin Man. The most expensive film up to that time and the winner of three Academy Awards, the film was a box office failure.
The St. Louis Municipal Opera produced a stage play using the songs from the film in 1945. Then in 1987, John Kane scripted the musical for the Royal Shakespeare Company that played in London’s West End and on Broadway. This production is based on that production.