The path to Oz not only winds along the Yellow Brick Road, but also through several North Hudson towns this year, the 75th anniversary of the film classic. That’s because the stage production next month by The Park Players, formerly of The Park Theatre in Union City and Weehawken, features several performers from North Bergen and Guttenberg, as well as a director from Union City.
The play will be held on Nov. 8, 9, 15, and 16, at 8 p.m., and Nov. 10 and 17 at 5 p.m., at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 1576 Palisade Ave., Fort Lee.
Cast and crew members from North Bergen are: teacher Heather Zahn as Dorothy Gale/stage manager; Manuel Ribes as the Scarecrow; teacher Melissa Welz as Glinda; Mary Ann Flores as an Ozian/tree, and Ani DeOrio, assistant choreographer. Hailing from Guttenberg is Jaime Boyacá Jr., the Tin Man.
From Union City is Rickie Londono, Winkie. Formerly of Union City are Joseph Conklin, a retired drama facilitator and teacher at Wilson School, as the Cowardly Lion/director; and Melissa Gaeta Montijo, Toto.
The story is well known by most. Little Dorothy Gale of Kansas, like so many girls her age, dreams of what lies over the rainbow. One day a twister hits her farm and carries her over the rainbow to another world. There she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, as she and Toto travel the universe of her imagination.
A theatrical treat
“It has and will be a treat for both those on stage and in the audience,” said Conklin, well known in New Jersey community theater. “Come, sit back, and journey for two and a half hours with characters who all can identify with.”
“Young and old alike love Dorothy and her adventures, and today, we all need to escape and have some good, enlightening fun,” he said. “It’s great to leave the theater happy, and there is no better ‘happy’ than looking ‘over the rainbow.’ ”
Growth and empowerment
North Bergen resident Zahn agrees.
“I feel it’s going to be absolutely amazing,” Zahn said. “The entire cast has worked so hard. It will be evident on opening night.”
“The Wizard of Oz is one of the best musicals ever written,” she said. “The cast is phenomenal; the show is fun and exciting. It would be a sin to miss it.”
Zahn said playing the role of Dorothy was an epiphany for her, helping her grow as an actress, and empowering her.
Ribes saw a lot of similarities between himself and the character he portrays in the musical.
“Well, like the Scarecrow, I don’t pay attention to what is going on around me, as if I had no brains,” he said. “However, I’m also not afraid of anything and, well, face my fears like he does.”
Remaining cast and crew
The rest of the cast and crew are: Diane Sicheri, Aunt Em; Tim Hagan, Uncle Henry; Judy Espaillat, Wicked Witch/choreographer; Craig Clark, Wizard; John Fiorenza, Nikko/director; and Kathleen Gentile, assistant stage manager.
Tickets, and how to get them
Ticket prices are $16, $14 (students and seniors), and $12 (groups of 10 or more). For reservations, call (201) 941-6030. Tickets can also be purchased by visiting www.brownpapertickets.com or the theatrical troupe’s website at www.parkplayers.com.
“The Wizard of Oz’ is by L. Frank Baum. Music and lyrics are by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg.
The Park Players are well known for producing The Passion Play in Union City each year during Lent for decades to celebrate the life and death of Jesus Christ.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.