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New spins on the Wizard of Oz and The Wiz

July 30, 2014 - By Katie Winkler

Review Staff Writer

The Wizard of Oz story line is portrayed in The Wiz, with a modern twist, some funky music and more interactive characters.

The Peanut Gallery Players director Stacy Cleaveland has re-created The Wiz to give it her personal touch while staying true to Dorothy's adventure down the yellow brick road.

In their sixth year, PGP looks forward to bringing their one-of-a-kind performance to the big stage next week at Meadow Brook Theatre, located on Wilson Road on Oakland University's campus.

According to Cleaveland, The Wiz offers present day references from reality TV shows such as Donald Trumps The Apprentice and Desperate Housewives, a tap dancing Tin Man, and upbeat music including guitar riffs, funk music and a twelve-piece orchestra.

"There will be 71 singing, dancing students. The level of talent is amazing. Some of these kids have worked professionally setting the caliber high," Cleaveland said. "These kids really work it and every person in the show is giving it their all."

The group of middle school and high school students have been rehearsing since June, including the fourteen kids from Lake Orion: Anna Trzcinski, Alexis Sargent, Katrina Waelchli Kendall Ashman, Lauren Brennecke, Gabby Brackon, Abby Nuss, Emily Nuss, Brooke Babcock, Jaclyn Holmes, Katlyn Ashman, Rachel Brown, Danielle Sargent and Carly Zeoli.

Kendall Ashman describes the show, and her character Addaperle, as "quirky", making the show exciting to watch. "I love the funky characters because they are really fun when they are really outgoing and weird. They are my favorite characters to play since it fits my personality," Ashman said.

While Ashman is the eccentric good witch of the north, Alexis Sargent plays the inspirational good witch of the South, showing the variety of characters on stage.

"She sings one of the last songs to Dorothy "Believe in Yourself.' I really like that song because [Glinda] tells [Dorothy] how to use her slippers and is the inspirational person to Dorothy. I really like the roll," Sargent said.

Those interested can see the students' hard work pay off during their performances begining Thursday July 31 and Friday August 1 at 7:30 PM, followed by a 2PM matinee on Saturday, August 2.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors, which can be purchased up to an hour and a half before curtain time by calling (248) 885-5129 or online at peanutgalleryplayers.org or at the door two hours prior to the show.

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