Friday, October 5, 2018
When the Alma Performing Arts Center hosts "The Wizard of Oz" on Saturday, some members of the cast and crew might feel right at home. After all, it was just last year that the national tour blew into town to perform its version of the classic story. That's because Alma's Performing Arts Center -- which features one of the largest stages in the state and a 1,500-seat house -- is the perfect venue for touring shows to decamp when their productions need a re-tooling.
"We are one of between eight and 10 road houses in the United States that does what we call 'mounting' or 'teching' national tours," explains Teresa Schlabach, Alma PAC executive director. "That's where a national tour will come in to our facility for anywhere from five to 14 days to tweak their shows, and we help them get ready to go on their national tour."
‘The Wizard of Oz’
WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE — Alma Performing Arts Center, 103 E. Main St.
COST — $15-$41
INFO — 632-2129
"We finished up last year's tour in March or April, and then we took the summer off," says Prather Touring production manager Russell Thompson. "We have some new members of the cast, and we're making some new additions to the show and getting it ready to go back out to the big spaces again."
Thompson says that this version of "Oz" is a perfect amalgamation of the 1900 L. Frank Baum book and the 1939 film classic.
"[The production] takes a little extra about each character from the book that got cut out of the movie," he says. "You find out why the Tin Man is the Tin Man, why the Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion are like they are. You have all the songs from the movie and then, of course, you have the dog. Murphy, who plays Toto, actually belongs to our musical director. He's a service dog, and we put him in the show. He's trained as a service dog but not so much as an actor. But he's doing great. He'll do anything for a Pup-Peroni."
Thompson also promises some chills along with the thrills.
"The monkeys fly, the witch flies -- everything that was in the movie, we have in this show."
Touring shows like "The Wizard of Oz" generally have three different versions of the show -- an A, B and C version -- that are scaled up or down, depending on venue size. The cast and crew of the show will spend around a week in Alma, rehearsing all versions of the show until they're ready to hit the road.
-- Lara Jo Hightower
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