YouTheatre is off to see the ‘Wizard of Oz’ at the Egyptian Theatre
‘Wizard of Oz Jr.’
7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, May 10 and 11; 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, May 11 and 12
Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
$18 for adults; $13 for youths ages 17 and younger
The kids of YouTheatre want to invite Park City to follow the Yellow Brick Road when they present “The Wizard of Oz Jr.” this weekend at the Egyptian Theatre.
The production, an abbreviated version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sam’s 2011 Broadway musical, utilizes the Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg songs from the 1939 film that starred Judy Garland.
Director Amber Hansen said bringing the iconic story by Frank L. Baum to the Egyptian Theatre stage had its own challenges.
The biggest among them was the vast size of the cast. There are 33 kids between the ages of 12 and 15 in the show, and there are only a handful of speaking parts, according to Hansen.
“We do have a lot of munchkins in Munchkinland, lots of monkeys and a lot of castle guards,” she said. “The challenge was figuring out who was going to do what.”
Since the production clocks in at 70 minutes, Hansen and her staff had to consider how costume and scene changes would fit in the scheme of things.
“I think we found a fine balance,” she said. “We are able to work with the cast members, who have been great, to make sure the story moves along.”
The core cast features Karina Barker as Dorothy, Amanda Rossi as Scarecrow, Eli Elkin as Tin Man, Zach Eggleston as the Cowardly Lion, Aniston Riley as the Wicked Witch of the West and Bryce Bargowski as the Wizard.
“The people who we cast came prepared to audition for the roles they wanted,” Hansen said. “Each one of them put themselves in our minds for these roles, so it was clear to us that Zach wanted to be the lion.”
Hansen selected Barker to play Dorothy because of her kindly disposition.
“Karina is just adorable, and she’s the sweetest girl,” Hansen said. “She volunteers at the National Ability Center, and is perfect as the giving Dorothy type.”
Rossi caught Hansen’s eye because of her personality and agility.
“The way she holds herself made her perfect for the role,” she said.
Elkin and Eggleston based their characters on the film versions but added their own flair, according to Hansen.
In addition Riley is a “hoot” as the Wicked Witch, Hansen said.
“She’s got moxie,” she said. “She’s a natural and she takes direction well.”
While Bargowski is a great actor for the Wizard, the YouTheatre crew will enhance his role with some special effects, Hansen said.
“We’re doing some really cool things with him as far as video and projections go,” she said. “In fact, we’re doing some projections of the Wicked Witch as well. So you will see her flying around on her broom.”
The larger numbers — taking place in Munchkinland and Oz — were the hardest scenes to stage, according to Hansen.
“Everyone has to be on stage,” she said. “They all had to be working in unison, or things would just fall apart.”
Still, the “Merry Old Land of Oz” scene is Hansen’s favorite so far.
“It just feels like everyone is emoting all of this energy,” she said. “It’s a fun number, and it really gets the audiences up in their seats.”
Hansen is hoping the other scenes in the musical will be as effective as “Oz.”
“I’m looking forward to actually performing the musical for real so that every number will have that magical quality,” she said.
Helping the cast find their confidence is one of the missions of YouTheatre, Hansen said.
“This is good if these kids are thinking of taking themselves to the next level, and auditioning for Hale Center Theatre or Pioneer Theatre Company,” she said. “We want to provide the most professional theater experience for these kids. And not only do we have professional set and video designers, we treat every actor as professionals, because we expect a lot out of them.”
Hansen holds a special place in her heart for “Wizard of Oz.”
“It was the first movie I ever saw,” she said. “My grandmother would put it on when I was a toddler, and it has always been special to me.”
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