Youth production of 'The Wizard of Oz' at Weathervane

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More than 30 children and young adults take to the stage in Weathervane Playhouse's presentation of "This Wizard of Oz" beginning Friday July 25 as part of the theater's young actors series.

Performers ranging in age from 6 to 20 bring to life this adaptation that includes songs from the 1939 movie classic, including "Over the Rainbow", "We're Off To See The Wizard", and "If I Only Had A Brain (Heart) (Nerve)".

Sarah Elaine Bailey directs the production, which features fireballs, special lighting effects, a tornado, and a live "Toto" as fans celebrate the 75th anniversary of the film.

"The audience will embrace this live stage version because it includes the music they know by heart performed by some of the area's most talented young actors," Bailey said. "It's also an opportunity for a new generation of performers to enjoy a show that their parents, grandparents and beyond hold so dear."

Kate Klika, a freshman at Akron's Firestone High School, performs in the leading role of "Dorothy" and faces off with the "Wicked Witch of the West", played by Cait McNeal, a freshman at the University of Akron. Other principle characters include Ali Caldwell (Auntie Em), Marco Colant (Uncle Henry), J.R. Heckman (Scarecrow), Al Oliver (Tin Woodsman), Michael D. Swain (Lion), and Codey Montecalvo (The Wizard).

This production is especially magical for Montecalvo as the 13-year-old who attends Akron's Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts recently completed his final chemotherapy treatment for Ewing Sarcoma.

"The cast has been so close in their support of Codey that just having him take the stage will bring this show some amazing energy," said Melanie Pepe, Director of Youth Education. "This cast includes munchkins as young as age 6 all the way up through young adults attending our area colleges, so this group of performers really brings a wide variety of passion and love to such a well-known production."

Children attending the productions can also take part in "Journey to Oz", a special pre-show program that provides photo opportunities with the cast, a peek backstage at how the show is brought to life, and snacks and games with some of their favorite characters. Call the Weathervane box office at 330-836-2626 or visit weathervaneplayhouse.com for more information on "Journey to Oz," which costs an additional $5 and is 90 minutes prior to the productions on July 27, and Aug. 2, 3 and 9.

"The Wizard of Oz" runs through Aug. 10. Tickets are $16 for adults and $12 for those 17 and under and are available at weathervaneplayhouse.com or by calling the box office at 330-836-2626.

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