The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


July 26, 2013

'Wizard of Oz' production features flying actors, live orchestra

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Oklahoma has a musical bearing its name, and Missouri can claim "Big River," a stage adaptation of Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn."

But "The Wizard of Oz" is on another level of importance, and not only to Kansans. Because of the beloved 1939 film, director Jason Huffman said it means a lot to get the important parts right.

"I put some extra pressure on the actors just to learn their lines," Huffman said. "People expect them and know them. It's not like an unknown show where you can take a lot of liberties. The Wicked Witch has to say, ÔI'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too.'"

The Pittsburg Community Theatre production of "The Wizard of Oz," which began Thursday, features a cast and crew of more than 100, including a live 16-piece orchestra that plays songs both familiar and unheard, Huffman said. One of those numbers, "Jitterbug," was cut from the original film.

And his cast, including Hanna Wade as Dorothy, is up for the task, he said. Many of the main roles are cast by actors who are also members of Midwest Regional Ballet.

"That made her perfect for the role," Huffman said. "She's doing ÔJitterbug,' a difficult song and dance. To have the stamina to do that is difficult, but she does it like a trooper."

Other cast members include Sage Brown as Scarecrow, Jared Mazurek as the Tin Woodsman, Seth Harley as the Cowardly Lion, Susie Lundy as the Wicked Witch and Bear, an actual dog playing Toto.

Kaye Lewis, director of the ballet, designed the choreography. Megan Gabeheart is the musical director.

A significant part of the crew is dedicated to helping some of the actors get airborne. ZFX Flying, based out of Louisville, Ky., was hired to design special rigs that would help the witch's flying monkeys actually fly.

Using the aerial rigs has taken a lot of training. Part of the crew is set aside just to ensure the safety and operation of the gear, Huffman said.

From the flying to the live orchestra, it's all part of making sure a big show plays big, Huffman said. And Huffman was happy to have people from all over the region involved in a story about the girl from Kansas.

"The actors are not just from Pittsburg," Huffman said. "We have people from Galena, Riverton, Joplin, Carthage and all over. That's what makes this a great draw."


Want to go?

Showtimes for "The Wizard of Oz" are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at Memorial Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, $5 for balcony. Details: 920-231-7827,

Text Only
  • 071814_whiskeydicks.jpg Stretching out: Whiskey Dick's can do more in a bigger downtown location

    For the Whiskey Dick's owners, it isn't a matter of what's in a name but more of a place where everybody knows your name.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • 072514_LIVEWIREcar.jpg Livewire's new video debuts on Billboard (w/VIDEO)

    The song is currently on Billboard's Top 40 charts for Texas Music and Texas Regional Radio Report. It is the latest release since the band's first full-length album, "Livin'," which was released in 2012 with Way Out West Records.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Film-Hollywoods Ape M_Cast.jpg Benji Tunnell: Great CGI, solid writing make 'Apes' a near-perfect blockbuster

    A couple of weeks ago, we saw "Transformers 4," a big, computer-driven blockbuster film that was symbolic of all that is wrong with filmmaking today.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • polyphony.jpg Marta Churchwell: New Mexico marimba group returns for concert Sunday

    They're back. Polyphony Marimba, the Santa Fe, New Mexico, band that wowed the crowd with African music during a Downtown Joplin Third Thursday last summer, received such a response to that performance that they're coming back on Sunday.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • River Regatta 2013.jpg Dave Woods: Nevada regatta makes for a birthday escape

    In just three weeks, I'll spend my 50th birthday floating down the Colorado River with 35,000 of my closest friends.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow 1 Story

  • 071814_pickin trimmin.jpg New festival focuses on short independent films

    As Jack Truman saw his films play in festivals around the world, one lingering thought persisted: He wished that such festivals existed in his hometown area.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071614 Glory Days_72.jpg Glory Days Music to resume weekly in-store concerts

    The staff at Glory Days Music have been working their business as usual. Musicians demonstrate guitars, drums and other instruments. Music is sold; lessons are taught. But something has been missing.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Joe Hadsall: All the hidden secrets in "Weird Al's" "Word Crimes" video

    I sincerely believe the "Word Crimes" video will become the most important song in history, and the most mandatory-to-watch video in schools across the country.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Globe Phone Test: Concept is clever, but transitions tricky with Asus PadFone X

    It's kind of embarrassing to point this out, but "Candy Crush Saga" is one of the best ways to illustrate how well the Asus PadFone X, a smartphone and tablet combo really works.

    Anyone who has more than one device will understand this situation completely: Let's say a player fires up "Candy Crush" on his tablet computer and really digs the game. A lot. So much so that he downloads it to his smartphone.

    Only there's one problem: All the progress made on the tablet is stuck on the tablet. The smartphone has a completely separate path of progress, meaning the player has to play each level twice. This makes progress through the game twice as long. (This problem can be fixed by signing up for the game on Facebook, but no one really wants their Facebook friends to know they spend so much time crushin' candy.)

    The Asus PadFone X is the dream solution to this nightmare of a problem.

    Available exclusively from AT&T, the device is actually two devices. A standalone smartphone can be plugged into a tablet computer, meaning the owner can take his pick of how he wants to play the game, and all the progress he makes is saved on one device's hard drive.

    AT&T loaned us a device that we tested for more than two weeks -- didn't like having to send it back -- and we found a lot of its qualities and quirks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tantric tours in support of latest studio album

    "37 Channels," the latest album from Hugo Ferreira's band, features a lineup of guests including Hinder's Austin Winkler, Shooter Jennings, 3 Doors Down drummer Greg Upchurch, Uncle Kracker guitarist Kevin McCreery, Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett and Leif Garrettt.

    July 11, 2014