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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Dorothy and friends come to Aggieland

A yellow brick road, a wicked witch, a singing scarecrow and flying monkeys; no, you’re not in Aggieland anymore.
The Wizard of Oz will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Rudder Auditorium. The production uses a script from a 1987 stage version paying homage to the 1939 movie.
“It’s the script that most people use for productions now [on stage],” said Noah Aberlin, who plays the scarecrow in the musical. “We hit on everything that the iconic movie [did]. You have to have the shoes, you have to have the witch’s cackle.”
The production’s main audience is families with children under 10 years old, but Aggies are still buying tickets.
“It’s a well known, well-loved story. People have grown up with it,” said OPAS executive member Elizabeth Melton, a junior English major. “You can enjoy it no matter how old you are.”
“Because it is live stage, we’ve added theatrical elements to make it a more well-rounded experience that all family members can enjoy,” Aberlin said.
To create the illusion of a tornado hitting, a canvas with images projected from the back and a front scrim with images projected from the front are used on stage. On the front scrim, images of debris are seen flying by from stage left to stage right, while on the back canvas the images go by in the opposite direction.
“It looks like the stage is right in the middle of the tornado,” Aberlin said.
Aberlin plays the Scarecrow and Hunk, one of the three farmhands at Dorothy’s home in Kansas. The farmhands transform into the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion in Oz, although when Dorothy returns to Kansas she is the only one that remembers the adventures.
“The whole meat of the play is that you have these four friends all searching for something, and they need each other to realize they’ve had it all along,” Aberlin said. “The scarecrow is searching for a brain but through the journey he finds out he’s had one all along… he comes up with great ideas and ways to get to the great Oz.”
Aberlin has a strong dance and gymnastics background, and he collaborated with his choreographer to add a lot of movement to his number, “If I Only Had a Brain.” He plays the role as if the scarecrow were a “song and dance man.”
“We played with some moves, with a trip here, a fall there, because he’s made of straw. Then we added some gymnastic moves to make it fun and exciting. I think of him as not having any skeletal structure, and so the slightest breeze knocks him over, or someone’s push, it affects him drastically,” Aberlin said.
The cast includes two dogs who play Toto, one as an understudy. The dogs were rescued from shelters and trained to perform in this musical at a young age. Their trainer is strict with them and particular about how they are handled, Aberlin said.
“The dogs are more professional than the actors. They’ve done Wizard of Oz all their lives,” Aberlin said. “It’s [Toto’s] first entrance that gets the best reaction. It has the final bow, it gets the most hootin’ and hollerin.'”
The production started rehearsals last September and opened in October. Since then they have toured all over the U.S. and some venues in Canada. There are 45 members in the company.
The cast and crew travel and lodge together in each location. “They’re your best friends and your worst enemies all at once,” Aberlin said.
The Wizard of Oz is sold out, but a wait list for tickets is available at the MSC Box Office, according to OPAS Marketing Representative Craig Boleman. Melton said that the production was supposed to perform three nights in College Station, but when the performances were postponed it was decided that the show could not run the same night as Muster.
“They [the company] were willing to work with us and still come for one night,” Melton said. “We’re lucky to have them.”
Ticket info:The Wizard of Oz will be performed 7:30 p.m. Monday in Rudder Auditorium. The wait list is available at the MSC Box Office by calling (979) 845-1234 or online at www.MSCOPAS.org.

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