One of cinema’s most beloved stories is coming to the stage at Riverside Theatre, courtesy of Crimson Tine Players.
The local theatre troupe is presenting the Wizard of Oz.
“It’s always been a favorite of mine,” said director Heather Anderson.
For Anderson, the production has been rewarding and challenging. She’s taken some risks, and backed away from others.
“Yeah, the monkeys don’t fly,” she laughed.
(The monkeys are actually called Winkies, a shortened name for Winged Monkeys.)
One of her most strategic moves was to cast two young actors to play the part of Dorothy.
Isabelle Wouda and Olivia Holloway share the part.
Anderson said given the importance of the role it made sense to cast one girl in the early scenes, and a second Dorothy for the later ones.
“Without a Dorothy there is no show,” she said. “They both know the whole play.”
Another creative choice was the casting of Toto, Dorothy’s dog.
Six-year-old Molly Coyne talked her way into the part.
“I wasn’t too sure what we were going to do for Toto and she walked in and said ‘I want to play Toto.’”
Coyne then gave a convincing puppy audition and sealed the deal. “She’s adorable,” said Anderson.
There were few problems casting the musically demanding production.
“I never seem to have an issue finding people who sing.”
More challenging was that 22 of the 26 actors have costume changes and there are at least 19 different scene sets.
Anderson said it was important to her to present the fantasy in a way that would evoke people’s memories of the iconic film, which premiered 80 years ago.
The early scenes are presented in sepia tones.
“Everyone is in brown. There is no color and then we get to Oz and it’s just wham, it’s an explosion of color.”
It’s Crimson Tine’s first production following the group’s separation from The Princeton Art’s Council.
“We’ve gotten great support from the town,” said Anderson.
Wizard of Oz plays December 13, 14, 20 and 21, at 7 p.m. each night.
Tickets are $15, $10 for seniors and students and $40 for a family of five.
There is a 2 p.m. matinee December 21, at 2 p.m. and tickets are $5.