Cardinal Stage Company is ushering in the holiday season with The Wizard of Oz, a musical production based on the iconic movie of the same name.
The show features a cast of 60 local actors, a set designed by C. David Higgins of IU Opera & Ballet Theater, and, according to Cardinal’s Artistic Director Randy White, special effects never before attempted in the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.
Cardinal has chosen the Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptation, which is taken directly from the 1939 film classic and includes all the songs and scenes from the film, as well as an array of movie-like special effects, including flying. “People will be flying everywhere!” notes White. “Cardinal is importing a professional fly crew, and Dorothy, witches, and monkeys will have four rehearsal days to earn their wings. Oh my!”
Recent IU musical theater graduate Charnette Batey returns to Cardinal to play the young Dorothy. The 22-year-old actress regressed even further for Cardinal’s recent production of Knuffle Bunny, playing one-year-old gibberish-talking Trixie. “It was one of the hardest roles I’ve ever played,” says Batey. As for the challenge of playing Dorothy, the role made famous by Judy Garland, she says, “I’m looking forward to bringing my own style. You connect to the role and that’s the best way to add your own touch to a character.”
Cardinal regular Mike Price and a team of newcomers join Batey on stage. “One of Bloomington’s great strengths is the depth of its acting bench, especially when it comes to musicals,” says White. “We’ve got thirty-four local children and an adult chorus of fifteen in the play, all of whom can sing, dance, and act.”
White believes The Wizard of Oz has such staying power because it connects with an array of audiences. “I think the search for home and meaning are elemental human ideas,” says White. “It’s a basic human story for kids and adults. We are all trying to figure this out.”
The Wizard of Oz is being presented at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater from December 21 to January 5. For further information and to purchase tickets, visit cardinalstage.org or Cardinal’s box office at 900 S. Walnut (336-9300).