Back in 1939, lyricist Yip Harburg and composer Harold Arlen open Somewhere Over the Rainbow with the line, “When all the world is a hopeless jumble…” Quite an apt description of our own times these days, wouldn’t you say? The Wizard of Oz has evolved from our childhood, an allegory of our troubles and the answers to be found within ourselves as little Dorothy Gale discovers “right in my own backyard.”
Paramount’s production of The Wizard of Oz began rehearsals yesterday with a “meet and greet” celebrating all of us being together with introductions and a few words from staff and creatives. Tim Rater’s ebullience inspired the proceedings from the start announcing our Broadway Series subscription base about to reach 40,000 this week! Practically jumping out of my skin, I welcomed and thanked the cast for the gift they are to us and for the gift they are about to give our holiday audiences in Director/Choreographer Amber Mak’s beautifully heartfelt creativity instilled into this newly-conceived production with her music and design team.
I felt so much excitement seeing them, getting this energy from them; let me tell you who they are!
Our young performers in the cast are: Audrey Edwards, Juliana Filapek and Elyssa Hall representing The Lullaby League, with Sebastian Merlo, Rodney L. Jones III and Trey Thompson who represent The Lollipop Guild!
Our singing, dancing, puppeteering triple threat ensemble is Emily Agy, Anastasia Arnold, Anna Brockman, Danielle Davila, Allyson Graves, Christopher Kelley, Maria Montero, Leah Morrow, Steve O’Connell, Nich O’Neil, Jessica Palkovic, Peter Sipla, Anthony Sullivan Jr, Aaron Umsted, Charlie Ward, J Tyler Whitmer and Travis Austin Wright.
And the fun doesn’t end there! Gene Weygandt, Daddy Warbucks from Paramount’s Annie returns as The Wizard, last season’s Buddy The Elf, Kyle Adams, returns as Scarecrow, Carl Draper our Will Parker from Oklahoma! returns as Tin Man, and Jeff Winner as our Sweeney Todd Paul-Jordan Jansen returns as the Cowardly Lion! Add to that our Oklahoma!‘s Aunt Eller, Caron Buinis is The Wicked Witch, and from our Sweeney Todd ensemble, Harriet Nzinga Plumpp is Glinda, The Good Witch!
Completing the cast of 30, including 13 Paramount debuts, is today’s grand finale here announcing golden voiced Elizabeth Stenholt as Dorothy Gale. Young Stenholt played Wendy in Chicago Shakes’ Peter Pan last summer directed by Amber, and you won’t want to miss this rising star’s ascent here at Paramount in Ms. Mak’s beautiful new production! Whoa! I almost forgot our double cast pups in the role of Toto! Our rescue dogs from William Berloni Theatrical Animals in the charge of handler Andy Hudson, cute, little Nigel and Nessa! So loved meeting them!
Legally Blonde closes Sunday, and I can’t urge you enough to get here and experience this incredibly sharp and funny take on the well-known Reese Witherspoon movie. I saw the 3 p.m. matinee Saturday with a friend, and I had to be careful my shirt buttons didn’t pop, so proud of every element of this production! Casey Shuler’s Elle Woods is off the charts, so well sung, as is the entire cast, orchestra, design, direction and choreography, all of it will win your heart and admiration!
“When all the world is a hopeless jumble” come see a show at Paramount! Subscriptions are still available: BUY TWO SHOWS, GET TWO SHOWS FREE!
Love and thanks,