Irwin teen channels her inner Judy Garland for Stage Right's 'Wizard of Oz'
Grace Rusnica is channeling the late, great Judy Garland for her starring role as Dorothy Gale in “The Wizard of Oz,” a stage production that pays tribute to the classic 1939 MGM movie.
Three performances co-produced by Stage Right and Kelly Simon Event Management will be presented July 13-15 at Greensburg's The Palace Theatre.
“Judy Garland's iconic portrayal of Dorothy definitely influences my choices as an actor,” says Rusnica of Irwin, a junior at Hempfield Area High School. “I love her personality and constant resilience, and I am incorporating her mannerisms into my character as well. Even though I'm adding my own personality, I want to portray Judy's classic Dorothy as much as I can.”
Rusnica, 16, says “The Wizard of Oz” has always been a favorite story of hers, and Dorothy is a favorite character.
A favorite role
“I went as Dorothy for Halloween many times as a young child and always dreamed I would have the privilege of playing her on stage. Last summer I played Dorothy in a smaller production of ‘The Wizard of Oz' at Stage Right – and I'm so happy that I get to play her again with an amazing, new cast,” she says.
She joins a group of professional adult actors and Stage Right students in this production directed by Tony Marino, with musical direction by Eric Barchiesi, choreography by Renata Marino and flying sequences by ZFX Effects.
The cast features Renata Marino as the Wicked Witch of the West, J. Alex Noble as the Lion, Nick Lenz as the Tin Man, Ben Pimental as the Scarecrow, Haley Holcomb as Glinda, John Noble as the Wizard and Anthony Marino as the Mayor of Munchkin Land.
Tony Marino says the Royal Shakespeare Company version of “The Wizard of Oz' is a nearly complete and faithful recreation of the movie intended to make the audience feel as if they are watching the ﬁlm come to life.
“The lines are right out of the ﬁlm and work beautifully live,” he adds. Special effects will include shifting from black and white to color like the movie and cinematic projections created by Mark Kissner (Pittsburgh Public Theater), technical director.
Rusnica has studied acting and dance at Stage Right for eight years. She also studies voice with Claudia Benack of Carnegie Mellon University and recently completed a musical theater camp at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Her recent roles include Gertrude in “Seussical,” Peter Pan in “Peter Pan Jr.” and Nala in “The Lion King Jr.”
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.