Happy Thanksgiving! There are so many extraordinary humans to thank for the thunderously bold and beautiful production of The Wizard of Oz that just had an incredibly ecstatic reception at Saturday night’s Press Opening! Packed to Paramount’s palatial rafters, the crowd was held enthralled by Director/Choreographer Amber Mak’s masterful retelling of the timeless tale. Amber wisely and lovingly understands how this story seems to be embedded in our DNA, part of our childhood and our growing up; how it’s simple truth has and will last us a lifetime. Cheers and applause from everyone of all ages bounded off the walls for Amber’s and her Associate Director/Choreographer Megan Farley’s dynamite dances and production numbers. When you see this show, you’ll want to personally thank them all for the results of the wonderfully fun and fresh ideas they worked out with Conductor/Music Director Kory Danielson and Assistant Music Director/Associate Conductor Charlotte Rivard-Hoster with Orchestrator Matt Aument! “Thank you’s!” to this incredible cast for not only brilliantly singing and dancing the night away but rising to the occasion of superbly animating Jesse Mooney-Bullock’s fantastical puppets! With Properties Designer Jesse Gaffney’s clever devices, all of this is decked out in Costume Designer Theresa Ham’s and Wig & Makeup Designer Katie Cordts’ gorgeous creations, all of it made so beautifully luminous by Lighting Designer Greg Hofmann. Special effects continue non-stop and wonderfully dramatic with Projection Designer Kevan Loney’s artistry and Sound Designer Adam Rosenthal’s endless inventions all played out exquisitely on Co-Scenic Designers Kevin Depinet’s and Chris Rhoton’s perpetually morphing sets! Kudos and appreciation for Stage Manager Jinni Pike who calls the shots and is a Wonder Woman among superheroes VP of Productions Rose Quealy and Production Manager Jonathan Allsup! And folks, there is so much more behind the scenes, a whole legion of dedicated, caring individuals who deserve all the credit and thanks, all the hootin’ and hollerin’ our audience can muster!

And wow, how did we get here? There is a kind of oasis here where through the arts, we are reminded of what is good and noble in who we are while being all too human.

Theatre has the potential to bring out the best in those who create it and in those who attend it. It can reflect a healing light to envelop us with wonder and awe and give us hope and optimism in sad times.

This optimism is learned. It’s learned from the thanks for everyone here at work for their understanding, kindness, empathy and forgiveness. I see this everyday around here mirrored in the dazzling art made from sharing compassion, cooperating, collaborating and listening. Take stock in and be thankful for what you have and in whom you may have around you. Make this a truly Happy Thanksgiving by appreciating what you have within. See the possibilities your thanks holds for the future and where it may lead! You just might find your way “Home!”

Love & thanks,