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Kids take to the Actors Guild stage in ‘The Wizard of Oz – Young Performers’ Edition’

Willow Peyton is the Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz — Young Performers’ Edition” that opens 7 p.m. Friday at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg. Tickets are on sale at www.actors-guild.com. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — L. Frank Baum’s classic novel is coming to life in “The Wizard of Oz — Young Performers’ Edition” at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg.

The show, which opens 7 p.m. Friday, tells the well-known story of Dorothy Gale who is swept away by a tornado from her Kansas farm to the incredible land of Oz. As she travels the yellow brick road, she encounters a host of whimsical characters: good witches, bad witches, animals that talk, scarecrows that walk and things magical to behold.

Curtain times are 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, 29 and Feb. 4 and 5, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, Jan. 30 and Feb. 5. Tickets are $12 and are available at the Guild website at www.actors-guild.com.

Corporate sponsor for the production is WVU Medicine Camden Clark. The show is rated G.

The play is written by L. Frank Baum with music by and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg. “The Wizard of Oz — Young Performers’ Edition” is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Tams-Witmark LLC.

From left, the Cowardly Lion, played by Jack Peyton, and Dorothy, played by Ana Bennett, in a scene from “The Wizard of Oz — Young Performers’ Edition” that opens 7 p.m. Friday at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg. Tickets are on sale at www.actors-guild.com. (Photo Provided)

The production features catchy songs, fun dance numbers and young performers from across the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“I think the first thing the audience is going to love is the classic story itself,” said Doug Parks, assistant director of the show.

Joe Reeves is the director.

“Joe has done a great job of combining ideas from the classic movie we all know and love while incorporating some new humor into the story as well as reinventing some characters,” Parks said.

By the time the show opens, the cast and crew will have rehearsed for 12 weeks. Parks cited the challenges of trying to rehearse with a group of young people during the holidays.

Dorothy, left, played by Ana Bennett, and Glinda, played by Libby Swaney, appear in the “The Wizard of Oz — Young Performers’ Edition,” which opens 7 p.m. Friday at the Parkersburg Actors Guild. Tickets are available at the Actors Guild website. (Photo Provided)

“These kids are artsy kids meaning they are involved in all things art, such as school choirs, bands, and theater programs, church programs, Smoot choirs, etc.,” he said. “There are a lot of programs during Christmas that make scheduling a nightmare, but Production Assistant Nicole Raber handled it amazingly and created a rehearsal schedule that worked for everyone. We have also had to figure out how to navigate COVID with masks, vaccines, quarantining, and all the new regulations and guidelines.”

Parks praised the talent of the cast and the enthusiasm to create an outstanding production.

“I think one moment that stands out to me is how fast they took to the music and learned it. Joe and I went down to the stage to discuss sets one day and when we came up, everyone was so excited for us to hear what they accomplished. They learned all the large music numbers in a very short amount of time and blew us away when they performed them for us,” Parks said. “I remember Joe and I being so excited about the ideas we had discussed downstairs and then coming up with that was the best thing ever. That’s when I knew this show was going to be something special.”

The cast is:

* Dorothy: Ana Bennett

Mollie Smith is Professor Marvel in the “The Wizard of Oz — Young Performers’ Edition” at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg. The show opens 7 p.m. Friday and tickets are on sale at www.actors-guild.com. (Photo Provided)

* Toto: Olivia Raber

* Aunt Em: Lauren Young

* Uncle Henry: Elijah Conger

* Hunk: Alex Marshall

* Hickory: Nathan Thornton

The Good Witch, Glinda, is played by Libby Swaney in the “The Wizard of Oz — Young Performers’ Edition” at the Parkersburg Actors Guild. Tickets are on sale at www.actors-guild.com. The show opens at 7 p.m. Friday. (Photo Provided)

* Zeke: Zander Parks

* Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch: Willow Peyton

* Professor Marvel/Wizard of Oz: Mollie Smith

* Glinda: Libby Swaney

* Mayor: Andrew Hanna

The cast of “The Wizard of Oz — Young Performers’ Edition” at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg. The show opens at 7 p.m. Friday and tickets are on sale at the guild website. (Photo Provided)

* Coroner: McKenna Broce

* Barrister: Eisley Adams-Morrison

* Munchkin Tots: Addy Bumgarner, Elaina Koskey, Natalie Salizzoni

* Tough Munchkins: Cole Caltrider, Declan Raber, Broc Willis

* Munchkin Ensemble: Adalyn Eichmiller, Cate Evans, Zackary Lantz, Karsyn Marshall, Zander Parks, Andrew Salizzoni

* Scarecrow: Brittany Ward

* Crows: Carolyn Oak, Lauren Parsons, Lauren Young

* Trees: Erin Carmicle, Ali Evans, Cate Evans

* Tin Man: Zoe Koskey

* Lion: Jack Peyton

* Jitterbugs: McKenzie Barnett, Josiah Clark, Adalyn Eichmiller, Kiara Groves, Zackary Lantz, Keaton Lowther, Carolyn Oak, Kaelynn Seebaugh, Libby Swaney, Zane Van Fossen

* Doorman: Elijah Conger

* Chorus: Eisley Adams-Morrison, Braden Barnett, McKenna Broce, Erin Carmicle, Josiah Clark, Elijah Conger, Ali Evans, Keaton Lowther, Christian Marshall, Lauren Parsons, Kaelynn Seebaugh, Nathan Thornton

* Oz Woman: Kaelynn Seebaugh

* Guard: Christian Marshall

* Nikko: Zach Gaston

* Monkeys: Kiara Groves, Andrew Hanna, Alex Marshall, Karsyn Marshall, Caleb McClung, Declan Raber, Broc Willis

* Winkie Leader: Josiah Clark

* Winkie Guards: Braden Barnett, Elijah Conger, Keaton Lowther, Zane Van Fossen

The technical crew includes:

* Assistant Stage Manager: Gracie Parks

* Lights: Grace Miller

* Spots: Rachel McClung and Sarah Ervin

* Sound: Patrick Arnold

* Backstage: Taryn Newsome, Tyson Kirk, Anya Williams, Brooklyn Smith, Kaleb Winland, Alayna McIntosh

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