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Carnegie Theater Transporting us “Over the Rainbow” this Winter

scarecrowSneak Peek by Charlie Roetting of “The Wizard of Oz”: Carnegie Theatre

Color! Excitement! Energy! Puppets! Munchkins!

These are just a handful of the wonders I was greeted with when I visited the cast of THE WIZARD OF OZ, the third sure-to-be-fantastic production in The Carnegie’s 2015-2016 season and the first full collaboration between The Carnegie‘s three departments (education, art gallery, theatre).

For a sneak peek of rehearsal photos and personal invitations from the cast, check out the You-tube video here: 

Carnegie Wizard of Oz Sneak Peek

The reasons to be excited for this production are many, only one of which is a classic script that has more than stood the test of time! The production is led by keen Director Matt Wilson. The music is being provided by Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, under the watchful eye and conductor’s wand of JR Cassidy. The set is being designed by local artist Pam Kravetz, well known for “THE ART OF FOOD” and her use of vibrant color. Add in Maggie Perrino for Choreography (as well as Props and the Producer hat) and you have a creative dream team!

The cast is no less star studded, led by Caroline Chisholm as Dorothy and featuring local favorites Sean P. Mette, Lesley Hitch, Will Reed, Jeff Richardson, Sarah Viola, Jack Manion, and Tyler Kuhlman, among others. Then there are the Munchkins! These eight young people (four from The Carnegie’s Education Center) are as energetic and talented as they are hard-working and adorable, which is quite a lot!

Also, there are puppets. Awesome. Amazing. Puppets.

Director Matt Wilson was kind enough to answer a few questions that I had about the production.

Question 1: What has been your favorite part (or parts) of developing this production?

WILSON: We have 8 children in our cast and they are all fantastic.  I love seeing such young performers come to a project and treat it with the same respect and diligence as the adults.  It is so much about the fun and the joy of being on stage for them.  That can be very infectious.  

Question 2: How is the show being re-imagined? What makes this production of THE WIZARD OF OZ stand out from others?

WILSON: The script calls for A LOT of special effects that are easy to do in film but aren’t so easy to do in a live setting, regardless of  your budget.  I think we have come up with some clever ways to do some of those things.  I also think audiences will see characters they are familiar with but that are presented in slightly different ways than they are expecting.  There are nods to the film but we aren’t just re-creating the movie on stage.  

Question 3: What part or parts of the show are you most looking forward to audiences experiencing?

WILSON: I think the audience will love Dorothy and her friends.  We’ve got some excellent performers in these roles and they’ve bonded off stage as well and that chemistry is apparent on stage.  

Question 4: THE WIZARD OF OZ is often thought of as a children’s show; many of us first experience it when we are young. How does the show, and this production in particular, transcend demographic? What can audiences of any age enjoy?

WILSON: I think the show appeals to children because of all the bright colors and fun characters, but the story has layers.  I think it speaks to people differently at different times in their lives.  The show says a lot about finding things within yourself you didn’t know were there, and I think it asks you to really examine what it means to have brains, a heart or courage.  The Wizard of OZ is a HUGE show that can seem very daunting to stage, but this production shows you what you can achieve if you open yourself up to creativity, let your passions lead you and are willing to take some risks.  The story is about characters seeking brains, a heart and courage this production is an example of a lot of folks coming together and using all three. 

When asked to comment on the production, actor Sean P. Mette had this to say.

“It’s the kind of story that inherently has magic behind it and people want to be a part of magic. I think it’s one of those stories that wants to invite you in and have fun.”

Come be a part of the magic.

THE WIZARD OF OZ, by L. Frank Baum with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, is being presented by The Carnegie from January 21-31.

From: http://www.thecarnegie.com/ :

Based on the hit MGM film, THE WIZARD OF OZ brings out the child in all of us with songs like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” THE WIZARD OF OZ will be a lightly staged production reminiscent of our sold-out staging of THE SOUND OF MUSIC presented in 2014.

Tickets $30, $27 for Carnegie Members and Enjoy the Arts Members, $21 for students. For THE WIZARD OF OZ, The Carnegie has added a family ticket package. Patrons can purchase two half-priced tickets for children (17 and under) with the purchase of one full-priced adult ticket. Please call The Carnegie Box Office to take advantage of this special package. Tickets are available at The Carnegie Box Office, open Tuesday through Friday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., online at www.thecarnegie.com, or by phone at (859) 957-1940.