The Wizard of Oz” Dropping onto Dunn Center Stage July 28-29

Munchkins with the Good Witch during The Wizard of Oz rehearsal at the Dunn Center, July 2017. Source: Suzanne Rollman
Munchkins with the Good Witch during The Wizard of Oz rehearsal at the Dunn Center, July 2017. Source: Suzanne Rollman

By Danelle Cauley, Activate Drama

Activate Drama is presenting the classic story of The Wizard of Oz at the Dunn Center as part of two simultaneous, three week-long camps in July.

Performances will be July 28 and 29, 2017, 7pm, at the Dunn Center for the Performing Arts on North Carolina Wesleyan College’s campus ( 3400 N Wesleyan Blvd, Rocky Mount NC). Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. For information on purchasing tickets, email activate.drama@gmail.com.

The Wizard of Oz tells the story of Dorothy Gale, a young Kansas girl, who is dropped into a marvelous land where scarecrows dance and monkeys fly. The musical follows Dorothy as she must travel through the strange world and find her way home. Along the way, she encounters many fantastical characters and learns the valuable lesson that “there is no place like home.”

The classic show is a favorite of all ages, and the Activate campers and staff alike are excited about being involved in the production. Joseph Davis, a 16 year-old enrolled in one of the duel camps, says that he is “. . . most excited about being able to experience, and be a part of, the iconic story of The Wizard of Oz.”

The first camp, Munchkin Mania, included 7-13 year olds who will be playing the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. The second camp, Broadway Boot Camp, included classes in voice, dance, and acting for teenagers 12-18 years old. Campers from Broadway Boot Camp have been cast in the various secondary and ensemble dancing and singing roles within the production.  Hannah Mennig, 11, is cast as the Mayor of Munchkinland and says her favorite part of camp has been “. . . discovering how to be a Munchkin and working with the other actors in the scene.”

The nine leads in the full-length production have been cast from five teenagers enrolled in Broadway Boot Camp as well as four interns working for Activate Drama’s 2017 season. These leads began rehearsing at the end of June to get a jump start on the show.

Danelle Cauley, the founder of Activate Drama, and director of the show, explained the unique opportunities and challenges this show presents. “We chose The Wizard of Oz for our full-length play this summer for many reasons. This classic story has many great roles for children, teens, and adults and challenges the imagination in how to create the magical world of Oz. Our team decided early on that we will not use projections or special effects, such as theatre flashpots and fog machines, to tell this version of the story. It’s live theatre, and we are trying to solve all creative challenges in a way that utilizes the best things about live theatre. Puppets, actors, dancing, costuming, scenery . . . we are using them all and creating theatre magic to bring this favorite to life for Rocky Mount!”

The camps have over 40 students enrolled. While most of the campers came from the Rocky Mount, Wilson, and Edgecombe area, the teenager playing Scarecrow has traveled from Tennessee. Another camper hails all the way from Belarus!

The students are not the only ones traveling from outside Rocky Mount. There are sixteen interns and staff working with Activate Drama who come from all different backgrounds of education, including current and former students of ECU, NC State, UNC Greensboro, Ohio University, and Rocky Mount’s very own NC Wesleyan College. That list also includes several Rocky Mount teachers, a seamstress from Missouri, a Tennessean teacher, and a Russian international student.

Activate Drama is a non-profit children’s and educational theatre organization, 501(c)3, and was founded in 2011 by Danelle Cauley. Since then, Activate Drama has produced or co-produced over 25 junior or full-length musicals in the Rocky Mount community. Learn more by visiting Activate Drama’s Facebook page.

Munchkins face the Wicked Witch during The Wizard of Oz rehearsal at the Dunn Center, July 2017. Source: Suzanne Rollman
Munchkins face the Wicked Witch during The Wizard of Oz rehearsal at the Dunn Center, July 2017. Source: Suzanne Rollman

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum with Music and Lyrics by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg. Background Music by Herbert Stothart. Dance and Vocal Arrangements by Peter Howard. Orchestration by Larry Wilcox. Adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Based upon the Classic Motion Picture owned by Turner Entertainment Co. and distributed in all media by Warner Bros. The Wizard of Oz is presented by arrangement with TAMS-WITMARK MUSIC LIBRARY, INC. 560 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022.

 

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