Greenbrier Valley Theatre in Lewisburg is getting closer and closer to opening its 2022 season, though the mainstage shows won’t kick off until mid-May. In the meantime, the GVT Youth Education group will be starting things off by performing the classic tale The Wizard of Oz: Youth Edition.
This one-hour adaptation by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company is sure to delight fans of the iconic MGM film. It features the music and tunes that we all know and love, with a few twists and turns along the way. In case you have never been swept away by a cyclone and don’t know the tale of The Wizard of Oz, it focuses on a young girl named Dorothy as she runs away from her home in Kansas and finds herself in the magical land of Oz. Teaming up with a group of friends, she must work to find the Wizard, outsmart the Wicked Witch, and ultimately return home.
Kiersten White, the Education Director at GVT, is serving as director of The Wizard of Oz, and is excited to be bringing this story to life. “I’m really excited to see the students grow and find their own versions of the classic characters,” says White. “How do you play such an iconic character as Dorothy as your own interpretation but still pay homage to Judy Garland?”
Ali Willis will be taking on that challenge of playing Dorothy, fulfilling a dream of hers that she has had since she was six years old. “As we are currently in the rehearsal process, I am a melting pot of emotions,” says Wills. “From pressure, to excitement, to pure happiness – I am feeling it all.”
The Wizard of Oz features over 20 students from Greenbrier Valley and Southern Virginia that began working on this process in late January. For many of them it will be the first time they have performed for a live audience in many, many months. “Until the pandemic, I don’t think I fully appreciated the feeling an actor gets when they step on stage with a full house,” says Wills. “I look forward to savoring every moment from the second the stage lights hit my face, to the curtain call of our final performance.”
The Wizard of Oz: Youth Edition opens at Greenbrier Valley Theatre on April 1 and runs through the 10th, there will not be a show on April 9. Tickets are $15 for general seating, $13 for senior citizens age 60 and above, and $11 for students. Tickets are available online at the theatre’s website: gvtheatre.org or by calling the box office at (304) 645-3838. Greenbrier Valley Theatre is located on E Washington Street in downtown Lewisburg, WV.
– Josh Lapping, HashtagWV #140. March 2022.