The scene at Woodland Theatre is akin to an unusually charted 100-meter dash---everyone is running in different directions, but all are arriving at the same place. That place would be opening night Friday, March 1 for The Wizard of Oz.
But before the curtain can go up on one of the most beloved musicals off all time, there’s still plenty to accomplish, especially in the realm of community theatre where no gets paid and schedules vary. Light techs climb ladders and discuss where shadows will fall, amateur makeup artists practice applying makeup on principal characters, and there’s a loud clanking sound as someone deposits the Tin Man’s costume on to the stage.
Overseeing all of this is the play’s director Nancy Christopher, who sits at a makeshift desk in front and right of the stage to type notes and make lists of tasks that need to be completed, reimbursements for materials that need to be made, etc. Periodically she looks up to answer a question from someone about lighting, set pieces, or gets up and goes back stage to look at how the makeup is progressing.
“All my minions,” Christopher jokes, motioning to the people industriously moving across the stage. “It takes a village to put on a community theatre production. This one takes a village and the Land of Oz.”
The Show runs March 1-3, 8-10, and 14-17. Tickets are available at Main Street Floral in Colville or call 509-684-9096.
Over a year in
For those who have lived in a cave cut off from humanity for the past several decades, The Wizard of Oz is based on the children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Published in 1900, the book was released to critical acclaim and served as the basis for the 1939 film starring Judy Garland, which ahs become one of the most well known films in popular culture. Woodland Theatre's production features favorite songs such as: “Over the Rainbow,” “If I only had a Brain,” and “We're off to see the Wizard,” along with a few twists and turns.
Christopher, a long-time actor, producer and board member of Woodland Theatre, has wanted to do The Wizard of Oz for 10 years now. Knowing what an undertaking the show would be though, she kept putting it off until the right time presented itself.
“About a year ago I was finally in a place where I thought I had the time to commit to it,” says Christopher. “I started talking with people about sets, found a producer and decided to go for it.”
Auditions were held last December, yielding local stage-wise acting veterans and some new faces in the cast. Around 19 area children have been cast in the roles of munchkins, the first inhabitants of Oz that Dorothy meets after a tornado carries away her house from Kansas and drops it in the enchanting land.
Finding a solution
“The kids in this show have been wonderful,” says the play’s producer Linette Richie. “They adapt so well and learn so quickly. Everyone in this play is perfectly cast. We lucked out.”
That good fortune has also extended to the production’s set design, created by Sean Taboloff of Chewelah. Constructed of items from plays past and painted and decorated by other dedicated volunteers, the set is actually deceiving in that there is actually several locations hidden into one. From Munchkinland to the Emerald City and the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle, it’s all right in front of the viewer, but hidden from the naked eye. Without giving too much away, the audience is in for a revelation.
“The audience will be pleasantly surprised,” says Richie. “We have some amazing special effects on this show and people have put a lot of time and effort into the lighting and sets to create this whole new world that will draw people in.”
There’s still plenty to accomplish before opening night---adjustments on lights, costumes, sound effects and rehearsal six days a week—but that’s what makes the magic.
“Theatre, particularly musicals, move on problems, and problems make you find solutions to things,” states Christopher. “This is a play that speaks to people about the importance of home and family. I’ve seen a lot of productions of The Wizard of Oz, and the audience is always enthralled, whether you are eight or 80. Plus, this is a chance to see your friends, neighbors and fellow community members sharing their love of theatre and performance with you.”