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The 'Wizard of Oz' comes to Geyer stage

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Marilyn Forbes | For the Daily Courier
Cast members for the upcoming “Wizard of Oz” get ready to travel down the Yellow Brick Road. From left are Brett Clark from Uniontown, Jonathon and Kara Rohlf from Brownsville and Dan Pretz from California. In back is Mark Fox from Scottdale.

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Rachel Basinger
Monday, June 10, 2013, 7:39 p.m.

Dorothy and her friends will be taking the stage at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale this weekend, with performances of the “Wizard of Oz” scheduled from Thursday through Sunday.

Karen Snyder and Toby Maykuth are co-directing the show.

Snyder said with this year being the theater's 25th anniversary, she thought they needed to do some “big-name musicals” that would feature lots of children.

“Brad Geyer (theater board president) had specifically mentioned that he would like to see the ‘Wizard of Oz' produced in this special season,” Snyder said.

The “Wizard of Oz” was previously performed at the theater, but not the Royal Shakespeare Company version, which is just like the movie.

“I always thought that AAFC should one day attempt to do that version,” Snyder said.

Maykuth, who is one of Snyder's friends, offered to help her in any way he could.

“This show is a huge undertaking, so I asked him to be co-director,” she said. “I really appreciate all he has done.”

Snyder said the show is not intimidating. Everyone loves it. But it is intimidating because of all the set and technical demands.

“The show takes place in 11 different locations, which involves building and painting a lot of different sets,” she said. “We are using three different backdrops, two of which were made, drawn and painted by several people from our production team and cast.”

Also, to pull off the show, the production team had to come up with feasible ways to simulate a cyclone, “melt” a wicked witch, fly the wizard's balloon and several other things as well.

Costuming the show has been a challenge, too.

Snyder said the theater rented many of the costumes for the leads, but theater officials had to make all of the Emerald City costumes, the Jitterbug costumes and put together costumes for the Munchkins.

Maykuth said the show is intimidating because almost everyone has seen it, and they have expectations.

“A small community theater can only do so much when it comes to the special effects, and I made a lot of decisions that attempted to simplify things for our stage, but I am counting on the acting to create the feelings necessary for the enjoyment of the production,” he said.

Snyder said the cast is coming along well.

“There is a mixture of young and older people, people for whom this is their first show and people who have done years of shows at the Geyer, and there are 27 adorable little Munchkins who will sing and dance their way into the hearts of everyone,” she said.

Maykuth said the cast is the most redeeming aspect of this show.

“They are working so hard, and they have been willing to do anything asked of them, including costuming and set building,” he said. “Some of the performances are, truly, some of the best I've seen in community theater in a long time.”

Snyder said theater leaders have been planning this show for months.

“It is so exciting to see the characters come to life, the sets be completed and all the technical elements start to work,” she said. “It's exciting just because it's the ‘Wizard of Oz.'”

Maykuth is excited to see what happens on opening night.

“So much can happen during live theater,” he said. “I love to watch how things finally come together.”

The shows are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12.

For more information or to learn more about the dinner and a show option, contact the theater at 724-887-0887.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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