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Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Odell Williamson Auditorium this weekend for Brunswick Little Theatre’s debut performances of “The Wizard of Oz.”
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 27 and July 28, and Aug. 3 and 4; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 29, and Aug. 5 in Odell Williamson Auditorium on the campus of Brunswick Community College.
The local production, based on L. Frank Baum’s classic story, is from a book adaptation of the renowned 1939 MGM motion picture screenplay, complete with music and lyrics.
It consists of a cast of 52 ranging in age from 4 to 65-plus, plus a 14-person band under the direction of Michael Stringer and a technical and stage crew of more than two dozen.
Director Jen Iapalucci says lots of people have gotten involved with the show. She believes that speaks both to the growing interest in the performing arts in Brunswick County and to the widespread appeal of “The Wizard of Oz” itself.
Dorothy is played by 14-year-old Natalie Flow of Oak Island, who has performed with Stagestruck Players, Brunswick Little Theatre’s troupe for children, but this is Iapalucci’s first time working with her.
“She knocked my socks off from the moment she first sang ‘Over the Rainbow’ at auditions, and I think absolutely everyone is going to love her,” Iapalucci said. “She is sweet but spunky, and embodies the Dorothy character perfectly.”
Children and teenagers take on the roles of Munchkins, poppies, and other background parts while veteran Brunswick Little Theatre actors fill other lead roles.
Iapalucci said the biggest challenge in performing such an iconic movie onstage is not disappointing the audience. People have vivid memories of the first time they saw the movie, and they love the story of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion, each in search of something different on their journey through Oz – a way home for Dorothy, a brain for the Scarecrow, a heart for the Tin Man and courage for the Cowardly Lion.
Iapalucci has been creative in finding ways to make those memorable scenes come alive, like the cow and rowboat “flying” by in the twister and the mystique and magic of the Wizard whom Dorothy finds at the end of the Yellow Brick Road.
“The audience will see Natalie Flow in a replica of Judy Garland's dress, and they will see the Lullabye League in big pink hats....the Wicked Witch will have green skin, and the Tin Man will wear a funnel on his head,” Iapalucci said. “But we have put our own twist on other costumes, and we have adapted the effects to suit our cast, and our staging abilities. I think the audience will be pleased. There is a good mix of the familiar and the new. The band, under the direction of Michael Stringer, is fantastic, and will transport the audience to Oz from the opening bars of the overture.”
One reason Iapalucci said she loves directing musicals is that she enjoys working with a cast of all ages. “I am always up for doing the big, all-ages musical,” she said. “It gives me a lot of joy to have not only my whole family involved, but to see other families sharing this experience with each other. It's awesome to see the kids learn and gain skills and confidence. I think the younger cast members learn from the older ones, and the older ones learn from the younger ones....there are not a whole lot of experiences out there where kids and adults can really share the whole process and be on equal footing.”
Iapalucci hopes that show, which is so widely known, will draw large audiences to the performances, even bringing in people who may not be familiar with Brunswick Little Theatre.
“This is a great show to get new audiences interested in musicals and the theater in general. Good theater is not just in New York. There are talented people ready and willing to put on a great show right here in Brunswick County,” she said.
Ticket prices are $6 for children ages 12 and younger; $12 for teens and students with school ID; and $17 for adults.
Tickets can be purchased at the Odell Williamson Auditorium ticket office, 910-755-7416, 1-800-754-1050, ext. 416, and www.bccowa.com.