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ACT's 'Wizard of Oz' opens this weekend

The Scarecrow (played by Justin Joramo) laments his lack of a brain as he meets new friend Dorothy Gale (Jessica Mefferd), who is trying to find her way back to Kansas after accidentally landing over the rainbow in Oz during rehearsal Wednesday at the Pepsi-Cola Theatre. (Candy DenOuden/Republic)

It looks like Dorothy isn't in Kansas anymore -- again.

This weekend and next, the Mitchell Area Community Theatre will close out its season with the renowned musical, "The Wizard of Oz." Play Director Cat Erickson said her cast of nearly 60 people has been working since February to prepare for the production.

"I think people are going to love the show regardless of their memory of it, and the actors -- all actors, children and adults -- have just been working really hard and have done a wonderful job," she said.

Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and May 9-10, and at 2 p.m. Sunday and May 11 at the Pepsi-Cola Theatre in Mitchell. Tickets are $12 or $14 depending on seats, and available at the ACT at 996-9137, or at the door.

It's been 75 years since audiences first fell in love with Dorothy Gale, Toto, a Cowardly Lion, Tin Man with no heart and a soft-headed Scarecrow as they try to find their way through the land of Oz. Filled with classic lines and cinematic magic -- such as the transformation from black and white scenes in Dorothy's home state of Kansas to brilliant color when she lands in Oz -- the movie has endured as a family favorite for nearly a century.

Conscious of that legacy, Erickson said she has striven to stay true to the beloved tale, while also encouraging the actors in the production to take each character and make it their own.

"I didn't want them to try to copy Hollywood, I wanted them to try to bring the character forth in them," she said.

Erickson, who has been involved with ACT since 2002, said this is the fifth or sixth show she has directed. Like the other shows she's directed, "The Wizard of Oz" makes use of child actors, who fill in the role of the Munchkins. Erickson said she enjoys working with the children, noting they still see things through imagination -- which helps make the fantasy world of Oz come to life.

"We have some very talented child singers as well," she added.

The final show of the season was originally slated to be "Annie," Erickson said, but had to be switched due to contracting issues. Despite the switch, Erickson said she was happy to stay on board.

"I love 'The Wizard of Oz,' " Erickson said. "I have real fond childhood memories of getting the popcorn, blankets, snuggling under a blanket and waiting for the scenes to change from black and white to color and the magic just happening."

Her biggest challenge at bringing the story to life, she said, has been managing the large cast, made up of 55 to 60 people. With such large numbers, she said different groups had to rehearse at different times in the beginning -- and Erickson hasn't been able to work one-on-one with every actor. But from the principal players to the supporting cast to the sound and stage hands and the music director, Erickson said everything has started coming together.

"Everyone has just been such an integral part of the show," she said. "This group has been wonderful at making things happen for me the way that I've seen them in my head."

"It takes a village to make a show," she added with a laugh.

If you go:

Showtimes for "The Wizard of Oz" are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and May 9-10, and at 2 p.m. Sunday and May 11 at the Pepsi-Cola Theatre in Mitchell.

Tickets are $12 or $14 depending on seats, and available at the ACT at 996-9137, or at the door.


Dorothy Gale -- Jessica Mefferd

Auntie Em / Glinda -- Heidi Swenson

Uncle Henry / Emerald City Guard -- Devin Carey

Zeke / Lion -- Steve Morgan

Hickory / Tinman -- Steve Laufman

Hunk / Scarecrow -- Justin Joramo

Almira Gultch / Wicked Witch -- Pat Buechler

Professor Marvel / Wizard of Oz -- Dean Soukup

Mayor of Munchkinland / Flying Monkey -- Ben Laufman

Coroner / Jitterbug -- Hannah Mah

Barrister/ Osian Beautician -- Madison Miller

City Father / Nikko -- Aidan Miller

City Father / Flying Monkey -- Cayden Weaver

Tot / Poppy -- Logan Culhane

Tot / Snow -- Jocelyn Tanner

Tot / Poppy -- Olivia Compas

Tough Guy / Flying Monkey -- Thaden Milliken-Auch

Tough Guy / Flying Monkey -- Theo Melmer

Tough Guy / Flying Monkey -- Daniel Laufman

Fiddler / Snow -- Cella Nath

Braggart / Jitterbug -- Abi Mika

School Teacher / Jitterbug -- Haley Hobbie

School Teacher / Jitterbug -- Lindsey Weeldreyer

Munchkin / Snow -- Katelynn Laufman

Munchkin / Poppy -- Julia Miller

Munchkin / Flying Monkey -- Henry Swenson

Munchkin / Poppy -- Taylor Hostert

Munchkin / Snow -- Kaytee Hostert

Munchkin / Poppy -- Kambyl Wede

Munchkin -- Ashlynn Jarding

Munchkin / Snow -- Keatyn Wede

Munchkin / Poppy -- Ashley Joramo

Munchkin / Jitterbug -- Miranda Hanson

Munchkin / Jitterbug -- Kelsey Joramo

Munchkin / Jitterbug -- Emily Thompson

Munchkin / Jitterbug -- Anna Driscoll

Munchkin / Snow -- Natali Hobbie

Munchkin / Snow -- Kali Milekovich

Munchkin / Snow -- Kate Ahlers

Crow / Jitterbug / Osian Manicurist / Tornado -- Victoria Colwell

Crow / Jitterbug -- Ashlyn Weier

Crow / Jitterbug -- Brianna Weber

Tree / Winkie / Osian Manicurist -- Danielle Wieczorek

Tree / Osian Manicurist -- Kathryn Mah

Winkie General / Osian Polisher -- Austin Kayser

Winkie / Osian Polisher -- Emilie Mika

Winkie / Osian Manicurist / Tornado -- Keely Nelson

Winkie / Osian Polisher -- Hannah Morgan

Winkie / Osian Manicurist / Tornado -- Sarah Moore

Jitterbug / Osian Polisher / Tornado -- Calli Mah

Osian Beautician -- Megann Davis

Osian Beautician -- Brenda Schroeder

Osian Beautician/Tree -- Nikki Hobbie

Osian Beautician -- Kate Miller