Children Off To Play The Wizard

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"The Wizard of Oz" may be one of the most popular musicals of all time, but the audience that watches the Children's Musical Theatre performance of the Judy Garland classic will experience something unique two Dorothys,

No, they don't sing duets, and no, they aren't twins. The two Dorothys are Andrea Gray and Megan Miles, and each one plays the lead for one of the play's two acts.

"We have two people playing the lead because it's a very long script and because they were both very talented in tryouts," said production coordinator Kathy Greenberg. "Besides, this gives them both an opportunity."

Greenberg said you don't have to worry about continuity.

"They really look alike, so the audience probably won't even notice the difference," she said.

In all, 60 youngsters in second to eighth grade participated in the three-week workshop that began June 11. Other key roles are played by Josh Winecki as the Cowardly Lion, Sarah Miles as the Scarecrow, Mick Stern as the Tin Man, and Alissa Greenberg as the Wicked Witch of the West.

"They've learned all aspects of theatrical production how to build sets, paint sets, choreography, music," Greenberg said. "They've gotten to visit tech rooms and see about lighting and sound effects, costume design. They got to go through auditioning for a couple of days, which was a neat learning experience."

In its third year, Children's Musical Theatre presented "Johnny Appleseed" two years ago, and "Annie" last year. "Annie was done in the spring because we're a one-auditorium town and that makes it a challenge to get access to the stage," she said.

Despite the lack of a theatre, Geenberg thinks the workshop represents a huge step for Payson. "There's a lot of emphasis on sports in the area, and there's a lot of kids hungering for the arts especially the performing arts," she said. "This is just a wonderful opportunity for them."

Most of the instructors and coaches involved in the program are area teachers, including director-at-large Carmelita Locke, co-directors Lynn Haworth and Louis Crabtree, and choreographer Kathy Kaufman.

Performances of "The Wizard of Oz" are scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, June 28 and 29. Tickets, which are $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and students 12-18, and $1 for children 4-11, can be purchased at the auditorium door or the Payson Public Library.

"There will be lots of door prizes, and cookies and milk for all children who attend," said Greenberg.

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