‘Wizard’ comes to Suffolk

Published 10:15 pm Monday, June 4, 2012

The four main characters of "The Wizard of Oz" follow the yellow brick road on the way to the Emerald City during a dress rehearsal.

Suffolk theatergoers will have the chance to get a whole new vision of “The Wizard of Oz” this week.

RPM Dance, a studio in North Suffolk, will host a production of the classic musical for three performances Friday through Sunday at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

About 35 senior musical theater students will join with local actors playing the adult roles to put on the stage version, said Renee Perry Mitchell, the owner and director of RPM Dance.

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While the work produced is a classic, there are a lot of new elements to this performance, especially for the students, Mitchell said.

Most important, this is the studio’s first time performing with a live orchestra.

“That’s the most exciting new element,” Mitchell said.

In addition, this is one of the first musical theater productions after the program was split in two — one younger group and one older group.

“It grew to a point where there were too many to put in one production,” Mitchell said. Plus, she added, many of the younger students have tremendous talent that needed to be developed in performance.

The younger students just wrapped up a run of “Alice in Wonderland.”

“They need to have something that showcases their talent,” Mitchell said. “It’s really worked really well.”

The production has original set design and choreography, but the foundations of the musical are recognizable from the famous film version starring Judy Garland.

“The stage adaptation has music from the film, plus a couple of extra things,” Mitchell said.

There are also elements of the film — such as Toto and the flying monkeys — that aren’t present in the stage version.

“The foundational things are really the same,” she said.

Mitchell thanked local businesses that have supported the production by volunteering the use of their materials and equipment. Andrews Roofing allowed the use of its trailer to haul everything to the center, and Lancaster Farms provided a number of live plants for use.

In addition, numerous parents have helped in the production.

“It’s a real group effort,” Mitchell said.

The show begins at 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $15 each and may be purchased at www.suffolkcenter.org or at the door.

In addition, on Saturday and Sunday, a separate show at 2 p.m. will highlight the talents of RPM dancers. Tickets for “Wild Kingdom” also are $15.