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|Folk art version of ‘Wizard of Oz’ sure to please LGBT, young fans alike|
|by Jim Farmer|
|February 16, 2012 23:41|
Although the Alliance Theatre’s version of “The Wizard of Oz” is being staged as part of the company’s Family Series, openly gay actor Patrick MColery is fully aware that audiences will probably be divided between younger patrons and LGBT theater fans. “Oz” opens Feb. 25.
In this stage version of the beloved, iconic film, McColery has a number of roles. He plays Uncle Henry, as well as one of the munchkins and the apple tree. He even puppets the Wizard character.
Most of the small cast doubles as various characters, he says. The only performer in the cast who doesn’t double is the actress playing Dorothy. As for Toto, the character is a puppet but “has plenty of life,” says McColery.
This is a pared down version of “Oz,” says the actor, although there is very little difference in the actual plot. What sets it apart besides the occasional puppet characters is a strong folk art theme, McColery says.
He is aware of the fascination, bordering on obsession, that some LGBT fans have for the film.
“I was young when I saw it and terrified, but there is so much truth to it,” he says. “It’s about facing your fears. Nothing comes easily to any of these characters.”
“It’s something we all know and love, and it’s about home – finding the home in yourself.”
Under the musical direction of openly gay Christopher Cannon, this version of “The Wizard of Oz” features — of course — the perennials “Over the Rainbow” and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.”
Navigating the Jim Crow South
Openly gay actor Spencer Stephens is appearing in The Center for Puppetry Arts’ new “Ruth and the Green Book.” It’s a world premiere about an African-American family traveling from Chicago to Alabama in the 1950s. They find a book that tells them of safe places they can visit. It is during the Jim Crow-era South and the family gets turned away from gas stations and hotels before finding safe places to stay – and passing along that information to others.
“Daddy is an optimist in love with his wife and daughter,” he says. “He is affected by the racism of the day but he is careful about what he says in front of his daughter. “
“And who of us doesn’t have a travel guide to know where to go, where the safe places are,” he says.
The Smiths remembered
Finally, a benefit performance of the new gay-themed show “Meat is Murdered” on March 2 will benefit 7 Stages theater company, known for its gay fare. The new show features the music of Morrissey, the popular bisexual singer.
“Meat is Murdered” is about the demise of the English alternative rock band The Smiths. Among the gay cast members is Jed Drummond, who plays one of Morrissey’s gay lovers.
Top photo: Costume sketches for Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion show the folk art style that Alliance Theatre brings to ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ (Design and sketches by Sydney Roberts)
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