I joined director Kathy McGilliard and what appeared to be “a cast of thousands” last week at the Sehmel Park amphitheater for a dress rehearsal of what will be the West Coast premiere of the musical “Dorothy In Wonderland.” It opens Friday (July 10), and continues each Friday, Saturday and Sunday until 7 p.m. July 26.
Costuming, set arrangements, artistic backdrops, direction, pace and professionalism of the large cast is NOT to be missed. Trust me!
The worlds of Oz and Wonderland collide in this fun romp cleverly adapted from the works of L. Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll. Dorothy Gale has made her way to the end of the Yellow Brick Road and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz is about to help her get home to Kansas. Before she can hop into the wizard’s balloon, another whirlwind hits Emerald City, sweeping Dorothy, her dog Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion away to Wonderland. With their new brain, heart and courage, Dorothy’s friends try to help her find her way home, meeting other characters along the way including Alice, the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, March Hare, Cheshire Cat and more. They face a dangerous new foe, the Queen of Hearts. Dorothy and Alice team up to defeat the queen at croquet. Will that be enough to return Wonderland to normal? How will they ever get back home to Kansas and to London?
Goodman Middle School’s Jordan Costin, the Scarecrow, loves “doing (a) summer play because I make lots of new friends and learn a lot from the experience.” Classmate Rain Fishman, the White Rabbit, loves “the way a bunch of people of different backgrounds, strangers, come together to create something amazing.” Goodman’s Sophia Delaney Folz has “made many friends who seem like a second family to me. I’ve improved my acting and the play enables me to share it with our community. It’s witty and extremely humorous. Everyone will find something in it to love!”
Purdy Elementary third-grader Alexia Brush, who plays Toto, feels, “People should come see the show because it’s really good. You’ll want to dance along!” To Discovery Elementary second-grader Clara Jordan, “the most fun has been getting to play multiple characters, and all the friends I’ve made. Come to our play; it’s worth it to hear all the singing.”
“The music is really challenging and wonderful to listen to,” said Harbor Ridge Middle School seventh-grader Audrey Krishnadasan, the Cheshire Cat. “I get to express my character and think of new ideas to fit the personality. It has made me more accountable. I have to know my part for others to be successful in their part.”
To seventh-grade Lighthouse Christian School’s Addy Hering, a knight, “It is a great learning experience for me and everyone else in the play. I have so much fun!”
Cassie McMurtrey, a Peninsula High School freshman who plays Dorothy, likes, “participating in community theatre; it feels like a little community, a family inside the cast. People should see our show — a really fun experience.” For twin sister, Susie, “Plays make a difference in my life, bringing my family closer together through practicing together. See the show; it’s a nice way to have a great night with your family and friends to make something beautiful.”
Sister Julie McMurtrey, who’s going into seventh-grade at Harbor Ridge Middle School, “learned so much about theatre over the five years I’ve worked with McGilliard. You learn to work as a team to make it work as well as how to develop your character. See our show; it’s a fun experience, and I hope it inspires others to start acting.”
Voyager Elementary kindergartener Kierra Meyers, a Tiger Lily and Munchkin, found, “the tornado dance (to be the most fun) because I love to dance. Everyone is going to laugh; it’s such a funny play.”
This is McGilliard’s 40th summer producing and directing outdoor musicals in Gig Harbor. Volunteer Blair McMurtrey, assisted by Peter Best, doubling as the Wizard, designed the set. Cast and families gave hours painting and hammering. The set artwork is by local artist Cheryl Stuebing and the perfect costumes were made by cast members themselves, coached by volunteer parent Sherrie Pierson who, providentially, was in McGilliard’s first musical, “The King and I,” in 1976.
Want to know more? Visit http://www.penmetparks.org/Penmet-Family-Theater.