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Cast members from the "Wizard of Oz" visited Kinderberry Hill Child Development Center on June 20 for the "Munchkin Mixer."

'Wizard of Oz' opens July 13

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Audiences will follow the Yellow Brick Road next month when the Woodbury Community Theatre's production of "Wizard of Oz" opens at the Loft Stage.

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The play, which opens July 13 at 7 p.m., tells the story of Dorothy Gale, who gets whisked away to the magical world of Oz after a tornado hits her Kansas farm.

Dorothy begins her journey down the Yellow Brick Road to find the Wizard of Oz, who has the power to send her home. Along the way she meets a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodsman and a Cowardly Lion who help her on her journey.

However, hot on her trail is the Wicked Witch of the West, who wants nothing more than to defeat Dorothy and her companions.

"I grew up watching the 'Wizard of Oz,'" said Justin Madsen, who will portray the Tin Man in the WCT production. "It's such a relatable show - everyone can understand the desire to dream big."

Munchkins and music

Director Lenore Weir said deciding on "Wizard of Oz" for this summer's play was an easy task since it's such a fun show and great for the whole family.

"It's one of those shows that's always in the back of your head," she said.

Weir said "Wizard of Oz" has been a huge undertaking. Not only is it the first time WCT has produced the show, but they had to make all of the costumes and the sets themselves.

"It's huge," she said. "You go in with an idea of what you want to see and if they don't get it then they're going to be disappointed."

Weir said she picked the version of the stage show that most resembled the movie with Judy Garland.

Even though the cast of 70 is going off of the classic movie version, they are also being asked to make the characters their own.

"I think we're really lucky because we do have the chance to make them our own," said Christina Berget, who will be portraying Dorothy. "We do have a great base to go off of."

Berget and Madsen said making the characters their own has been a challenge though because it's hard to get out of the framework of the well-known characters.

"It's hard not to play what's already been interpreted," Madsen said.

"It's been a challenge to try and dig deeper and see what lies beneath the surface," Berget said.

Berget and Madsen also said rehearsals are challenging as well since the two of them, along with the Scarecrow, Tom Monn, and the Cowardly Lion, John Siracuza, are practically on the stage the entire show.

"As soon as you're on stage, you're on for the rest of the show," Madsen said. "There isn't a lot of breaks."

Berget said she is looking forward to being able to bring a favorite of so many people to life.

"It's nice that people are going to love it no matter what," she said. "It's so great that we're able to give them something special."

Madsen mirrors Berget's sentiments.

"My favorite part is the whole magic of the show - it's one of those shows that holds a special place in people's hearts," he said. "We're looking forward to welcoming people into the land of Oz."

The Woodbury Community Theatre's production of the "Wizard of Oz" is July 13-14, and July 19-21 at 7 p.m. and July 15 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for children ages 5-17 and children under 5 are free. On July 15 at 1:30 p.m. is the "Punch and Munch with Oz Characters" which will include children's activities, refreshments and pictures with characters. Tickets are $5. For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.woodburycommunitytheatre.org.

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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