Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

The Wizard of Oz, Playing March 13-18 at Memorial Auditorium, Celebrates the 1939 Film

<em>The Wizard of Oz</em> stars (from left) Christopher Russell as the Tinman, Kalie Kaimann as Dorothy Gale, Victor Legarreta as the Cowardly Lion, and Chris Duir as the Scarecrow (photo © Denise S. Trupe)

The Wizard of Oz stars (from left) Christopher Russell as the Tinman, Kalie Kaimann as Dorothy Gale, Victor Legarreta as the Cowardly Lion, and Chris Duir as the Scarecrow (photo © Denise S. Trupe)

Thanks to Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre, Triangle theatergoers will once again be skipping down the Yellow Brick Road, off to see the Wizard, on March 13-18 in recently renovated Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. BSS and NCT are jointly presenting eight eye-catching and ear-pleasing performances of the 2017-18 National Tour of the vivacious 1987 Royal Shakespeare Company version of The Wizard of Oz, produced by Prather Productions Inc. of Lancaster, PA, directed by Dean Sobon, and choreographed by Amy Marie McCleary.

The RSC’s version of The Wizard of Oz is based on the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical-fantasy film, with screenplay by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf, which was — in turn — based on the beloved 1900 children’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). Adapted from the book and the 1939 screenplay by Robert Johanson, with a new-and-improved book by Dundee, Angus, Scotland-born playwright and screenwriter John Kane, this show also features the movie’s 1940 Academy Award®-winning song “Over the Rainbow” by composer Harold Arlen and lyricist E.Y. “Yip” Harburg and its Oscar®-winning score by Herbert Stothart.

In preshow publicity, the North Carolina Theatre and Broadway Series South call The Wizard of Oz “[t]he greatest family musical of all time.” They add, “… This magical production is a celebration of the 1939 MGM movie, and will be presented with breathtaking special effects that will sweep audiences away from the moment the tornado twists its way into Kansas.”

Also according to the North Carolina Theatre and Broadway Series South:

“Leading the cast as Dorothy is Kalie Kaimann. She previously played this role for the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. She has also performed as Bonnie in Anything Goes, Logainne in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Ulla in The Producers, Millie Dilmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and Minnie Fay in Hello, Dolly! She received a Best Featured Actress in a Musical by for her performance as Minnie Fay.

Chris Duir will play the role of Scarecrow/Hunk. For Prather Entertainment Group, he played the role of Bert in Mary Poppins and Eugene in the national tour of Grease. Regional credits include Crazy for You (Bobby Child), Damn Yankees (Smokey), The Drowsy Chaperone (George), and Singin’ in the Rain (Production Tenor). He was also a singer for Celebrity Cruises and Galaxy Macau Resort.

Christopher Russell will portray Tinman/Hickory. He performed as Avram/Perchik understudy in the national tour of Fiddler on the Roof. Regionally he has performed in Funny Girl (Eddie Ryan), The Producers (Leo Bloom), The Full Monty (Jerry Lukowski), Lend Me a Tenor (Max), Steppin’ Out (Geoffrey), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Freddy Benson), and Second Chances: The Thrift Shop Musical (Wally), for which he also composed the original score.

Victor Legarreta will portray the Lion/Zeke. Victor has performed professionally in over 150 productions nationally, internationally, and on cruise ships including the recent roles of the Cop in the hilarious comedy Shear Madness, Public Enemy #1 in Anything Goes and numerous comedies for Prather Entertainment Group. Victor is also a director and has written many musical revues. He previously portrayed the Cowardly Lion at the Broadway Palm in Fort Myers, Florida.

“The other leading roles will be played by: Emily Perzan (Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West) Regional: Velma (Chicago), Cassie (A Chorus Line), Vivian (Legally Blonde), Maureen (Rent), Rutledge (1776). Kirk Lawrence (Professor Marvel/The Wizard of Oz) Regional credits include: Clue: The Musical (Colonel Mustard), Oklahoma! (Mr. Carnes), A Wonderful Life (Mr. Potter), and Sweeney Todd (Todd). He toured internationally with Julie Taymor, Steve Reich, and Penny Arcade. Ashleigh Thompson (Aunt Em/Glinda) Regional: 9 to 5 (Judy), Jenny Wiley Theatre; Company (Kathy) [at the] Heritage Theatre Festival; and Oliver (Nancy) [at] Festival 56. She has a BFA in Musical Theatre from Shenandoah Conservatory. Michael Weaver (Uncle Henry/Gatekeeper) National Tours: Fiddler on the Roof, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Regional: Shear Madness, Camelot, Sister Act, Greater Tuna, and Christmas Story.

“And, of course, everyone wants to know who will play Toto. His name is Murphy, and he is a white Brussels Griffon/Cairn Terrier mix with scruffy fur and an adorable underbite. Murphy was rescued on February 5th, 2016 from the ASPCA in Chandler, AZ by Lizzie Webb (music director for The Wizard of Oz tour) and was immediately welcomed into the theater world. He has been a trusty backstage companion, a pit orchestra puppy (sleeping at mom’s feet while she plays piano and conducts shows) and within a few months of adoption he was onstage as Willoughby in Mary Poppins. This will be his second time playing Toto. He even has his own hashtag! #montanamurphy

Dean Sobon will serve as the director and previously created the national tours of Fiddler on the Roof and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Other directing credits include: Clue: The Musical, West Side Story, Oklahoma!, Crazy for You, A Christmas Carol, How to Succeed in Business, A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline, Big River, The Sound of Music, and Guys & Dolls. Amy McCleary, will create the magical choreography, and she was the director/choreographer of the national tour of Memphis the Musical and the choreographer of the national tour of The Wedding Singer. The team of Sobon and McCleary will take Dorothy, Toto and their friends the Cowardly Lion, Tinman, and Scarecrow ‘Over the Rainbow’ to adventures in Munchkin Land, the Haunted Forest, and the Emerald City.

“Featuring the classic songs, as composed by Harold Arlen, ‘Over the Rainbow,’ ‘Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead,’ and ‘If I Only Had a Brain,’ along with the other beloved characters, The Wizard of Oz will have the entire family captivated as they travel down the Yellow Brick Road for an unforgettable day at the theater. For more information visit:”

The tour’s Ensemble includes (in alphabetical order): Troyer Coultas, TommieLee Crutcher, Scoob Decker, Megan Godin, Jesse Jacobson, Elieen Janesz, Yurina Kutsukake, Megan Orlowski, Nicholas J. Pearson, Cesar Razza, Jack Saleeby, Kelsey Schergen, Catherine Skojec, and Clint Maddox Thompson. The Swings are Matthew Blum and Katelyn Candiello.

In addition to director Dean Sobon, choreographer Amy Marie McCleary, and music director Lizzie Webb, the tour’s creative team includes executive producer Prather Touring William T. Prather, artistic producers Brian Enzman and Lauren L. Sobon, production manager/lighting designer Russell A. Thompson, set coordinator Evan Adamson, costume coordinator John P. White, sound designer Don Hanna, company manager Marc Ciemiewicz, and production stage manager David D’Agostino. The show also features music coordination by J.P. Meyer.

Glinda (currently played by Ashleigh Thompson) arrives in Munchkinland (photo © Denise S. Trupe)

Glinda (currently played by Ashleigh Thompson) arrives in Munchkinland (photo © Denise S. Trupe)

SECOND OPINION: March 7th and 12th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-previews by Byron Woods: and

Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre present THE WIZARD OF OZ at 7:30 p.m. March 13-16 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. March 17 and 18 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $23-$113, except click here for $25 college student tickets.


Duke Energy Center Box Office: 919-996-8700 or (information only).

BSS GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 996-8719,, or

NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or

NCT GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 6949;; or

Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or

SHOW:,, and


THE TOUR:,, and




Broadway Series South:,, and


North Carolina Theatre:,,,, and

NCT BLOG (Stage Notes):

2017-18 NCT SEASON:




NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, March 17th, performance.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900 novel): (fan site by Eric P. Gjovaag) and (Wikipedia).

The Novel: (Library of Congress online facsimile edition).

L. Frank Baum (novelist, 1856-1919): (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

The Wizard of Oz (1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical-fantasy film): (official website), (TCM Movie Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Harold Arlen (music, 1905-86): (official website), (Internet Movie Database), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

E.Y. “Yip” Harburg (lyrics, 1896-1981): (Yip Harburg Foundation), (Internet Movie Database), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Herbert Stothart (incidental music, 1885-1949): (Internet Movie Database), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Noel Langley (screenwriter, 1911-80): (Internet Movie Database), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Florence Ryerson (screenwriter, 1892-1965): (Internet Movie Database), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Edgar Allan Woolf (screenwriter, 1881-1943) (Internet Movie Database), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

The Wizard of Oz (1987 Royal Shakespeare Company musical version): (official website), (Tams-Witmark Music Library, Inc.), (The Guide to Musical Theatre), (Facebook page), and (Twitter page). (Wikipedia), and (YouTube).

John Kane (Dundee, Angus, Scotland-born playwright and screenwriter): (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Robert Johanson (adapter): (Internet Broadway Database).


Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)

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