Local theatre produces “The Wizard of Oz”

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Local theatre produces “The Wizard of Oz”

Caitlin Trude

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Young artists perform as the citizens of the Emerald City in PTYA's production of "Wizard of Oz." Credit: Caitlin Trude/The Foothill Dragon Press.

Young artists perform as the citizens of the Emerald City in PTYA’s production of “Wizard of Oz.” Credit: Caitlin Trude/The Foothill Dragon Press.

Everyone has heard its songs and nearly every child who has seen the 1939 film adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” has at one point developed a phobia of the Wicked Witch of the West.

The story of Dorothy Gale and her adventures in Oz have become so familiar that spin-offs of the classic tale have been created, such as the hit Broadway musical “Wicked” and the Syfy channel’s mini-series, “Tin Man.”

On Saturday, the Performance Theatre for Young Artists brought L. Frank Baum’s story back to the stage this weekend at the Pointsettia Pavillion, directed by Marta Dewey. The cast, which featured performers of a variety of ages were accompanied solely by Justin Ramos on the piano.

Some of the main roles, which include Dorothy, Glinda, the Wicked Witch, and the wizard, feature alternating performers for different nights. On Saturday, these roles were played by Claire Winch, Courtney Licata, Megan Velzy-Lenington, and Geneva Douma, respectively.

Winch played the role of the endearing yet hopelessly naïve Dorothy Gale and displayed impressive vibrato in the popular Broadway ballad “Over the Rainbow.”

Audience members responded with unusual enthusiasm to the “manmade” Kansas twister, a scene-change made difficult because of the production’s location.

It was not until after the title song “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” that Dorothy was introduced to Seyozha LaPorte (Scarecrow), Joey Santia (Tin Man), and Eric Stuart (Lion), with the latter three contributing comic relief throughout the scenes for the youngsters in the audience.

Michelle Turner came that afternoon to see Stuart, her son, perform.

I love that scene when he first comes out,” Turner recalled smiling, also citing “Over the Rainbow,” as another favorite scene of hers.

Cheryl Hagerman of DeAnza Middle School called the production “awesome,” and was a fan of the twister sequence.

Cabrillo Middle School student Lily Hargett, on the other hand, preferred the humor of Toto the (stuffed) dog as well as Santia’s performance.

An alternative scene entitled “The Jitterbug” was added to the production, placed immediately before the Wicked Witch’s demise. This scene was cut from the original film.

Finally, after the four received what each had sought – a brain, a heart, courage, and a way back home – the performers took a curtain call and were received warmly by the clapping of the audience.

For those wishing to trek down the yellow brick road to Oz to see a family-friendly production, performances continue this coming Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. PTYA’s next performance this season will be a stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”

What do you think?