JCU Students Perform Musical “The Wizard of Oz”

JCU’s Performing Arts Company put on the classic American musical The Wizard of Oz on April 17, 18, and 19, 2023. For three nights the Aula Magna Regina was decorated with a yellow brick road and welcomed 60 guests for each performance.

The Wizard of Oz - cast

The Wizard of Oz – cast

A company of 15 students met consistently twice a week throughout the semester to bring the show to life, under the leadership of actor and director Douglas Dean, who also directed last semester’s performance, An Evening with Shakespeare.

The musical is based on the 1939 film of the same name starring Judy Garland about the adventure of Dorothy Gale, a girl from Kansas who finds herself in the magical land of Oz after she and her dog Toto are swept away from their home by a tornado. The film is an adaptation of the 1900 children’s novel The Wizard of Oz by American author L. Frank Baum. Over 100 years since its publication, The Wizard of Oz continues to be culturally and historically significant today.   

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

“There’s something incredibly poignant,” said Art History student Kaitlyn Meule, who played the good witch Glinda in the show, “about a story where four people, each with different motivations, unite to help each other toward a common goal. Stories like this, especially today, make us realize how often we take a happy ending for granted, and I think that doing this show made us all a little more aware of just how amazing a good-natured, comedic story can be.”

In addition to the 13 actors, the crew included Classics major Alana Atkinson as stage manager and visiting student Alexander Price as assistant director. “As a study abroad student, the opportunity to direct this year’s musical has been one of the best experiences I have ever been presented with,” commented Price.

The show sold out on all three nights. “You can really tell everyone involved went above and beyond for this show, which resulted in a very high-level rendition of The Wizard of Oz,” said Dean of Academic Affairs Stefano Arnone.

Ilenia Reale, Editor-in-Chief of the student-run newspaper The Matthew, who played Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, expressed how thankful she is at being given the opportunity to do theatre while in her last year at JCU. “It was thrilling to be back on stage for one last time before graduating. The last night of the show was very emotional for me – a lot of goodbyes and new beginnings – but it’s a night I’ll remember as one of the most beautiful during my time at JCU.”

The Performing Arts Company, a program run by the Student Services Office, was revived in Fall 2022 after a two-year hiatus. “When social distancing restrictions were lifted, we were happy to re-start the program and to give the students a valuable and safe space to express themselves creatively,” said Student Activities Coordinator Federica Bocco, who oversees all initiatives related to Performing Arts. “Putting on a two-hour production with acting, singing, and dancing was an ambitious project, especially with everyone being involved in so many other things. On top of their classes, many actors are also club leaders, graduating seniors or study abroad students who participate in our cultural and sport trips to make the most of their time in Italy. But thanks to everyone’s enthusiasm, passion, and dedication, we made it happen.”

If you’re interested in joining the Performing Arts Company and audition for their next production in September, don’t hesitate to get in contact with Federica Bocco at [email protected].

THE WIZARD OF OZ by L. Frank Baum with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg, background music by Herbert Stothart, dance and vocal arrangements by Peter Howard, orchestration by Larry Wilcox, adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1987, based upon the Classic Motion Picture owned by Turner Entertainment Co. and distributed in all media by Warner Bros. JCU’s amateur production of The Wizard of Oz has been presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd. on behalf of Tams-Witmark LLC.

(Federica Bocco)