An American classic, the story of the Wizard of Oz has enchanted generations since L. Frank Baum’s book was first published in 1900, and the iconic 1939 MGM film further cemented the story’s status as a national treasure. This July, Dubuque audiences will have the opportunity to experience this beautiful musical live onstage. Rising Star Theatre Company will present this lavish production, featuring breathtaking special effects, dazzling choreography and classic songs, from July 14-22 at the historic Five Flags Theater.
Rising Star Theatre Company (RSTC), a local nonprofit theatre company, was founded in the summer of 2009 by Nick Halder and Megan Schumacher. Now in its ninth season, the company has produced over 20 shows, in which over 800 community members have participated. The company now produces three shows each summer. This June, their production of Pippin featured local high school and college students, and from August 10-13, over 200 area youth ages 8-18 will present The Little Mermaid. However, the company’s current focus is its “family production” of The Wizard of Oz, which will open on July 14th.
In 2011, RSTC established its July family production, open to community members of all ages. The Wizard of Oz marks the company’s seventh family production, and this year’s cast boasts over 60 members, the company’s largest July cast to date. The show’s actors, from Munchkins to Winkies, range in age from 6-51, and, true to the show’s name, the cast includes many families, as parents, children, and siblings take the stage together. Community and other family members will also comprise the production’s crew and its pit orchestra.
“What I love about this show is the timelessness of it and how it reminds us through Dorothy that there is no place like home,” said choreographer Connie SaLoutos Furlan. “What also drew me to this piece was the opportunity to tackle the Jitterbug. Conceptually, it was intriguing to me to bring bugs to life in human dancing form!”
For director Nick Halder, one of the most valuable aspects of this family show is the mentorship opportunities offered by having actors of such varied ages. “These relationships between the ages, and what the adults can teach their younger cast members, are really an example of what the company strives for in all its productions,” said Halder. “The kids learn a strong work ethic and skills they can apply to any production and beyond to their everyday life. That educational aspect gives the youth a goal to strive for, and they remember these mentors when they eventually become leaders themselves.”
The cast, crew, and orchestra have worked incredibly hard over the past six weeks to bring the wonderful world of Oz to life. Your friends, family, and community members will sing and dance their way across the Five Flags Theater stage from July 14 – 15 & 20 – 22 at 7:30 PM and July 16 and 22 at 2 PM. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $12 for youth and may be purchased at the Five Flags box office or online through Ticketmaster (online service fees apply).
Don’t miss your chance to follow Dorothy and all her friends down the Yellow Brick Road as they learn that, after all, there’s no place like home!