Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 8, 2013

Oh my!

Large cast, multiple Dorothys, flying monkeys featured in Paramount Players’ ‘Wizard of Oz’

ASHLAND — The Paramount Players will bring one of the most beloved American movies to life on the stage of the Paramount Arts Center next week.

“The Wizard of Oz” will be presented at 7 p.m. March 14 and 15 and at 3 and 7 p.m. March 16.

Director Melanie Cornelison said she chose this show for the troupe because of its popularity and recognizability.

“People of all ages love the ‘Wizard of Oz’ and like to see it again and again,” she said.

She said she loves “Wizard” because it’s so popular and everyone is familiar with the music. She said it’s challenging, though, because there are difficult technical requirements.

“We are dealing with a lot of special effects, like the cyclone, smoke, the Wizard’s chamber, fire and the flying of many of the characters just to name a few,” Cornelison said. “We have hired a company called D2 Flying Effects that will be coming in for the week of the show to fly Glinda, the Wicked Witch, the Wizard and several other characters. That in and of itself is a huge undertaking.

“And, of course, there are the challenges of working with live animals on stage. We have a wonderful Yorkie named Pebbles who is playing our Toto.”

The large cast gave her the opportunity to include many area actors, too.

“We had more than 250 people audition for the show and we ended up with a cast of 128,” she said. “Many of these actors are performing on stage for the very first time, including some of our youngest munchkins who are only 5.”

There are two “Dorothies.”

“We had so many talented actresses audition for Dorothy that we ended up casting two girls in the roles,” she said. They are Hannah Noel and Morgan Casto. “They will split the performances and each girl will get to do three shows.”

The two-hour 15-minute show includes all the classic scenes from the movie as well as a scene that was cut from the movie, Cornelison said.

“The Wicked Witch sends out a group of creepy crawlies called the Jitterbugs to find Dorothy and her three companions,” she explained. “They ‘attack’ by causing the characters to dance to the point of exhaustion so the monkeys can come and take them away. It is a really cool dance number that has been fun to stage and will be an unexpected addition for the audience to enjoy.”

Amber Ferguson is the music director.

Some of the other cast members are: Kim Cooper as Aunt Em; Tim Woods as Uncle Henry; Ashley Taylor as the Wicket Witch and Almira Gultch; Bill Tussey as the Gatekeeper of Oz; Joshua Jannotta as the Scarecrow and Hunk; Steve Dyer as the Lion and Zeke; Tim Holmes as the Tinman and Hickory; Lindsay Saltsman as Glinda; and Tyler Bradley as Professor Marvel and The Wizard.

The Paramount Players will present “The Wizard of Oz” at 7 p.m. March 14 and 15 and at 3 and 7 p.m. March 16 at the Paramount Arts Center. Tickets are $14 for adults, $10 for students and $12 for groups of 12 or more. Lap seats (for those 12 months or younger) are $5 to be added to an adult ticket. For more information, call the PAC box office at (606) 324-3175.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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