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‘The Wizard of Oz’ lands at the Baldwin Theatre this week

They’re off to see the Wizard! Toto (Jo-Jo Troia), Lion (Jerry Haines), Scarecrow (Matthew Miga), Dorothy (Gabrielle Phillips) and Tin Man (Bradley Ellison).
They’re off to see the Wizard! Toto (Jo-Jo Troia), Lion (Jerry Haines), Scarecrow (Matthew Miga), Dorothy (Gabrielle Phillips) and Tin Man (Bradley Ellison). Photo by Lance Luce and Colleen Muench.

For those of you who want to take all the kiddies to see “The Wizard of Oz” but can’t swing the production coming later this month to the Detroit Opera House, Stagecrafters is here to the rescue. Never a company to quail in the face of monumental productions, Stagecrafters is mounting the stage version of the classic 1939 MGM film, complete with flying monkeys and witches, colorful munchkins, and a real “Toto.” Over 50 actors are listed in the credits, and this promises to be a true spectacle.

“The Wizard of Oz” runs June 6 - 22 at the Baldwin Theatre, 415 S. Lafayette in downtown Royal Oak. All your favorite characters from the film will be there, portrayed by some of the Detroit area’s top-drawer talent. And Stagecrafters promise to thrill audiences with the flying effects created by ZFX, Inc., colorful costumes, imaginative set designs and of course the iconic choreography as the friends skip down the Yellow Brick Road.

The show’s director, Randall Wrisinger of Royal Oak, knows a thing or two about staging live productions made famous through film – having directed Stagecrafters’ productions of “The Sound of Music” and “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” on the Main Stage, plus the youth theatre production of “Cinderella.” “I wanted to do another show that involved youth and adults. I love working with the young people and seeing them grow up in the theatre as well as the excitement that it creates in their eyes,” says Wrisinger.

Wrisinger chose to use a real Cairn terrier in the role of Toto. “We are very blessed to have Jo-Jo as our Toto. His human parents, Bill and Ann Troia of Farmington Hills, bring him to all rehearsals, work with him on- and off-stage and are exposing him to the all of the mayhem he’ll be part of,” says Wrisinger. Jo-Jo was rescued by the Troias from Cairn Rescue USA. They joke that they are a failure as foster parents because once they had Jo-Jo they knew they had to keep him.

This production is based on the book by L. Frank Baum with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, background music by Herbert Stothart, dance and vocal arrangements by Peter Howard, orchestration by Larry Wilcox and adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The stage production is based upon the Classical Motion Picture owned by Turner Entertainment Co. and distributed in all media by Warner Bros.

Kicking off the production’s run is the Good Witch, Bad Witch Ladies Night Out Fundraiser on Wed., June 4th at the Baldwin Theatre. The themed event begins at 6 pm with a pre-glow of hors d’oeuvres prepared by Café Muse of Royal Oak, drinks including a ‘Flying Monkey Brew,’ retail therapy, raffle, costume contest and the preview performance of “The Wizard of Oz.” Attendees are encouraged to dress as their favorite good or bad witch. Prizes will be awarded for the best costume in the two categories. The preview performance will begin at 8 pm. Advance tickets are $30 each and available for purchase online at Stagecrafters.org or by calling the advance tickets sales at 248-541-6430. This fundraiser is sponsored by Credit Union Advantage.

Patrons attending the opening night performance, June 6, are invited to attend the 7 pm pre-glow of complimentary light hors d’oeuvres and beverages hosted by Blackfinn Ameripub of Royal Oak.

Advance tickets for performances are $20 on Thursdays, $22 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Evening performances are at 8 p.m. with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at online handling fees apply or by phone at 248-541-6430 using Visa or MasterCard. All seats are reserved. If shows have not sold out, tickets can be purchased at the box office one hour prior to the performance for an additional $2.00 per ticket. Student, military and senior discounts are available for specific performances. The Baldwin Theatre is located at 415 S. Lafayette, Royal Oak.