[SCRT] – This summer, the Santa Clarita Regional Theatre Company will present one of the greatest musicals ever written, The Wizard of Oz. The longevity of this timeless story about a girl from Kansas, a Tin Man, Scarecrow, Lion, a cyclone and an utterly hateful Wicked Witch is as evergreen as the Emerald City itself. The story seeped into the public consciousness almost 100 years ago with the 1939 MGM film — and we still adore it six decades later. Why?
Bottom Row, left to right, the Leads: Sarah Ryan Holzer, Glinda; Gin Treadwell Eng, Witch; George Chavez, Lion; Adrianna Eldridge, Dorothy; Craig Sherman, Tinman; Steve Rizzo, Scarecrow Top Row, left to right, the Understudies: Amy Grace Semeisberger, Glinda U.S., Rosemary Moffat, Wicked Witch U.S.; John Joseph Krukowski, Lion U.S; Michael Smith, Tinman U.S. and Blake Yanez, Tinman U.S.
We spoke to the talented and diverse lead actors and their understudies from the cast of this production and got some wonderful insight. They come from many backgrounds and hold varied ‘day jobs.’ They are full-time actors, teachers, stunt artists, voice-over artists, students, interior decorators and sales people. They are all exemplary actors. They all agreed that The Wizard of Oz is timeless and iconic, a story for everyone. Steve Rizzo, the Scarecrow said that, “We love it because we all carry a little bit of each character inside us.” Adrianna Eldridge, who plays Dorothy, feels that it’s “a story in each of our hearts, one that creates a place for a cast to come together and bond tightly.” Craig Sherman, our Tinman loves “the Oz message that we are more than we think we are.”
Most of the actors agreed that they had wanted to do the role they were awarded, or felt a special affinity to that particular character since they were kids, after watching the movie year after year with family. Other cast members, like Sarah Ryan Holzer, Glinda, has always “loved the way her parents loved watching her love the show as a child.” George Chavez, the Lion, believes the show delivers the message that we need to have courage and teach courage. Gin Treadwell Eng, the Wicked Witch of the West, is elated that her “premier villain role is that of such an iconic, wicked character.”
The understudies must be mentioned. Understudies – or U.S.’s – are the remarkable performers who learn the role of one lead character and serve as a replacement if necessary because – just imagine the Wizard of Oz without a Dorothy or a wicked witch. Understudies work closely with their counterpart and serve as ensemble for the rest of the run. This often means they do twice the work of the leads, but they all agree they are happy to do it! SCRT incentivizes these frequently unsung pros by having them play the role for one performance. Michael Smith declares that, “Like most of us, the Tinman wants to be able to love and be loved in return.” Rosemary Moffat said she’s been playing villains for years and especially loves the Wicked Witch because, “the character is my opposite, but it’s so much fun being wicked!”
It is clear to this writer that the exemplary cast and crew of this show have had a great time creating this world of Oz and are committed to making it magical. So bring your family to the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center this summer and wander away into the Land of Oz and see these wonderful actors in full glory. You’re sure to rediscover that there really is no place like home. Performances are Saturdays at 8 pm, July 23, 30, August 6, 13 and Sundays, 2 pm, July 24, 31, August 7 and 14, 2016 at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center, located at 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road in Valencia. Call the Canyon Theatre Guild Box Office for reservations at 661-799-2702.