Justin Stebbins as Scarecrow in City Theater’s production of “The Wizard of Oz.” SUBMITTED PHOTO/Courtesy of Audra Hatch

BIDDEFORD — Biddeford’s City Theater is off to see the wizard, the wonderful “Wizard of Oz.”

The City Theater is inviting theatergoers to a magical kingdom filled with Munchkins, flying monkeys, witches and wizards as it puts on a stunning rendition of the family-favorite musical, “The Wizard of Oz,” from now until Aug. 6.

It’s a familiar tale — based on L. Frank Baum’s novel and its 1939 adaptation — the musical finds Kansas farm girl Dorothy, played by Brie Roche of Portland, taken from her small-town life and transported to the fantastical kingdom of Oz.

Brian McAloon as Tin Man in City Theater’s production of “The Wizard of Oz.” SUBMITTED PHOTO/Courtesy of Audra Hatch

There, desperate for a way to return home, she is aided by a trio of unlikely friends: Scarecrow (Justin Stebbins of Westbrook), Tin Man (Brian McAloon of Old Orchard Beach) and a very cowardly Lion (Schuyler White of Kennebunk). With the help of Glinda the Good Witch of the North (Lynn Boren-McKellar of Saco), they set off to find the powerful Wizard of Oz (Brett Balfour of Saco) while struggling to keep Dorothy, her dog Toto and a pair of enchanted slippers out of the clutches of the Wicked Witch of the West (Alyssa Rojecki of Gorham).

Schuyler White as Cowardly Lion in City Theater’s production of “The Wizard of Oz.” SUBMITTED PHOTO/Courtesy of Audra Hatch

Also among the 62-member cast of local performers are 16 Munchkins, seven flying monkeys, eight featured dancers of various roles, and 21 dancing and singing “Ozians.” Monkeys and witches will fly, Director and Producer Linda Sturdivant said by phone Wednesday, thanks to the assistance of Flying by Foy.

And, Sturdivant said, there’s something for everyone.

“I think there’s lot of spectacular visual effects in the show. The costumes are bright and very colorful. The dancing is just amazing,” Sturdivant said. “It’s a visual spectacle.”

Brie Roche as Dorothy and Mo as Toto in City Theater’s production of “The Wizard of Oz,” on stage now through Aug. 6. SUBMITTED PHOTO/Courtesy of Audra Hatch

The musical adaption of “The Wizard of Oz” was originally produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London in 1987, with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg, Sturdivant said. You’ll likely know a few songs 

— “We’re Off To See the Wizard,” “If I Only Had A Brain” and “Over The Rainbow,” among them. But Sturdivant said audiences can expect a few of her own personal touches that will enhance the program.

“For me, it’s walking that balance between the things that are iconic that the audience is going to expect to see, and then looking at it and thinking, ‘This is where we can do something a little different,’” she said.

Among them, a bright and showy, 1950’s sock-hop-inspired Jitterbug number and a Busby Berkeley-influenced poppy scene, complete with big hats and tuxedos.

“Just a few little things to make it my own, to make it updated a little bit and make it feel more modern,” Sturdivant said. “All the iconic stuff is there. (The audience) will recognize a lot of it and be surprised by some of it.”

Of the cast, Sturdivant said the group — all 62 of them — are easy to get along with and said they’re happy to be part of the show.

“I want to thank them for stepping up and making it all great,” she said of the cast, which takes the phrase “family show” to the next level.

“We’ve got moms and daughters and sons that are in the show, fathers and sons … Toto’s owners are part of the show,” she said. “This has been an opportunity for families to do theater together.”

And, yes, she said Toto is the toast of the set.

“He is the most chill little dog ever,” she said.

“The Wizard of Oz” runs weekends from now until Aug. 6. The City Theater is located at 205 Main St, Biddeford. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for all shows and are available by calling the box office at 282-0849, or online at citytheater.org.

Please note there is no show today, Sunday July 23.

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]


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