CharACTers presents The Wizard of Oz

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By Sarrah Peters/News Editor

CharACTers Theatrics and Gadsden State are presenting the play The Wizard of Oz. The play is sponsored by Regional Biomedical Laboratory. 

The show will be on Oct 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. There will also be Sunday matinees on Oct 12 and 19 at 2:30 p.m. The play will be at Wallace Hall Fine Arts Center on the Gadsden State campus. Tickets cost $10 for students and seniors and $12 for adults. 

The play is the same classic Wizard of Oz as the well-loved childhood film that people grew up watching. In fact, many of the cast declared that they wanted to do the play because they loved the film as kids.

“It’s a classic and one of my favorites,” said Hannah Jarbo. “It’s my first lead and it’s Dorothy.”

The cast is comprised of about 130 members, ranging in ages. The youngest cast member is four while the oldest is in his 60s. 

The cast worked hard to recreate the energy found in the movie. The cast even worked to make their voices match the original actors in the movie. 

The play does contain at least one new scene. A “jitterbug” scene that was filmed for the Wizard of Oz, but not aired with the movie has been added back to the play. Jarbo said that the scene was her favorite, but most challenging.

CharACTers has produced The Wizard of Oz before, almost exactly five years ago. The difference between the shows is prominent, though. This time they had a larger budget to work with. 

“We went all out,” said Cody Carlton.

According to Carlton, the first time they produced The Wizard of Oz the costs were about $6,000, and it was their first non-profit show. This time they spent about $30,000.

Reproducing the play also gave some of the cast a chance to try out for the parts they wanted the first time around. 

“It was the first show I ever auditioned for, and this gave me a second chance at it (the part of the Cowardly Lion),” said Seth Williamson, who played the Tinman five years ago and the Cowardly Lion in this production.

Amazing visual effects and great audio have improved the quality of the show. Just like in the movie, some characters fly around stage. The show also has a better set.

“Our Oz head is Broadway quality,” said April Taylor, who plays The Wicked Witch of the West and Miss Almira Gulch.

CharACTers was founded by Cody Carlton when he was only 16. CharACTers now produces plays and offers classes in the arts. The organization operates mostly through ticket sales, although community support has helped the program flourish. The cast and stage crew is comprised of volunteers. 

The organization has about 500 volunteers a year. Carlton’s talent in directing attracted talent from local actors and even places as far as Birmingham. 

April Taylor, the Wicked Witch, has performed since childhood through schools and churches, but couldn’t find anywhere to perform after college until she found CharACTers.

“There was this genius kid putting together this giant show,” said Taylor. 

The Wizard of Oz stage is filled with colorful costumes and characters, in large part due to Carlton’s casting and directing.

“I think they will like Cody’s vision of the show,” said Daniel Matchen. “Everything is beautiful, even the Wicked Witch is beautiful.”

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