Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Dorothy Coming to Bigfork

 “The Wiz” is a new, more soulful musical visit to the timeless classic in which the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion help Dorothy return home.  It is all at the Edge Center in Bigfork in July. “The Wiz” will be turning the Edge stage into a magical musical land when the Hopkins-based Stages Theatre Company and their young performers bring its lively 1970s music north. Come and see if Dorothy safely returns home in this new sound and modern look at her adventures.  “The Wiz” will be on stage Friday through Sunday July 18 through 20. Performances are on Friday and Saturday 7PM and Sunday 2PM. Prices $10 for adults and $5 for children.

“The Wiz” is based on the original Tony award-winning Broadway musical of the same name.  It is the familiar story of Dorothy's tornado-driven adventure in Oz and the wonderful characters who befriend and protect her. This is a Theatre for Young Audiences Version of the 7 Tony award-winning Broadway musical. The Tonys include Best Musical, and include the songs “Ease on Down the Road,” and “Everybody Rejoice.” If you would like to get a “behind the scenes” look at the show in rehearsals check out this clip:

Sandy Boren-Barrett (above), the Artistic Director for Stages Theatre Company, explained the production by saying, “One of the things I love most about ‘The Wiz’ is the fact that it carries with it, some of the storytelling MAGIC of the Wizard of Oz, but deviates just enough to make it more relevant in some ways for young audiences.  The show follows the adventures of Dorothy as she travels through a more modern time and space to seek an audience with the mysterious Wiz…sounds familiar right?  But The Wiz tells this through an urbanized musical version of the L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of OZ.”

The magical slippers are still in the story, but they are silver as they are in Baum’s book. In fact, “The Wiz” is a closer adaptation to the book than is the movie. The red slippers were an addition to help the impact in the movie version to take full advantage of the new color sensation in movies back then. And, the tornado is still how Dorothy gets to Oz.  Sandy adds “The messages are pretty much the same …Value your connection to TRUTH. Trust what you know. Be brave. Having brains is no more or less important than have HEART and home is a really important part of who we are, and who we become.” Bigfork audiences can have its own “adventure” comparing the two approaches of the movie and this musical. Then maybe people can read Baum’s book to see for themselves how they BOTH compare to it.

The Bigfork Stage will turn into this new “Oz”.  The Stages Company is bringing a BIG truck full of Oz magic for the show.  To set the magic, it will a full day to unload and set up the show. This will take from 8AM to after dark. I wonder what they are bringing?

There are 17 youth performers, all are teens, and 2 adult actors. Several of the cast were in last year’s “Aladdin.”  The Genie from “Aladdin” is the Scarecrow. The actor that played Aladdin last summer is playing the Cowardly Lion. The Stages Company will perform “The Wiz” 42 times including the Bigfork performances. They will also do excerpts from the show at The Minnesota Children’s Museum and the Mall of America.

Why do they like coming to Bigfork?  Sandy says, “Every year the actors ask ‘Is the summer show going to Bigfork?’  It is a chance for them to experience performing in a different venue, and have a fun, rural experience as a community of actors. They grow as actors, as people, and as an ensemble.  Much is learned from it, and a lot of fun is had by all. I am so proud of THIS theatre company, and this cast, crew, and design team. They have been brave and innovative and smart and full of heart…and more. Thank you for trusting us to make this story come to life for you and your young people.  It is a great way to end our 30th Anniversary Season. And thank you Greater Bigfork for having us, and for all the volunteer hours that go into such a project.”

Artistic Director, Sandy Boren-Barrett, has been with Stages Theatre Company (STC) since 1990, allowing her to pursue a dual passion for theatre production and arts education. For 15 years, she led a team of artists and educators in an award-winning education and outreach department at STC. She has directed more than 30 productions at (STC).  She has served on an advisory panel with the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Design Team for the Minneapolis Public Schools initiative Arts for Academic Achievement. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA).

Stages Theatre Company (STC) was founded in 1984 and since then has grown to become one of the largest professional theatres for young audiences in the country. STC engages young artists with themes relevant to their lives and involves them in creating magical works featuring young people in meaningful roles. It annually serves more than 130,000 young people and their families.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation and an appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage fund.

So what are you doing that weekend?  Maybe you can make “The Wiz” part of your fun.  The whole family is sure to enjoy it. Come to Bigfork and enjoy the show.  “The Wiz” will be on stage Friday through Sunday July 18 through 20. Performances are on Friday and Saturday 7PM and Sunday 2PM. Prices $10 for adults and $5 for children.

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