The Cowardly Lion and Tin Woodcutter will travel along the Yellow Brick Road wearing tutus in the ballet adaptation of “The Wizard Oz,” opening at Milford High School on Friday, April 4.
The Cowardly Lion and Tin Woodcutter will travel along the Yellow Brick Road wearing tutus in the ballet adaptation of "The Wizard Oz,” opening at Milford High School on Friday, April 4.
This ballet, presented by Diamond Dance Company, retells the timeless fairytale through graceful dancing and a large cast.
Lightning to strike twice
Diamond Dance Company’s upcoming performances of "The Wizard of Oz” were specifically set for this year since 2014 marks the namesake film’s 75th anniversary. After first introducing "The Wizard of Oz” ballet at Milford High in 2013 to great acclaim, Diamond Dance Company has a more enchanting experience in store for audiences this time around as the dancing has become smoother, transitions between scenes are swifter and the entire set will not have to be re-built from scratch.
“We started the ballet last year from the ground up and we were choreographing as we went,” said “Wizard of Oz” Artistic Director Kimmy Noll. “Then we had to come up with all the scenery and sets.”
Despite juggling those various duties, Noll and Diamond Dance Company Director Misty Yencer still managed to create choreography that earned the DDC praise from BroadwayWorld.com. The DDC was recognized as the winner of best choreography as part of the 2013 Broadway World Delaware Arts Awards for its work in “Wizard of Oz.”
“[It was] the first time we were nominated for something like that,” said DDC President Susan Grant. “We’ve been a ballet company for 15 years.”
The ballet made such a strong impression on audiences last spring that it inspired handfuls of young dancers to audition for this spring’s production. Approximately 15 new characters have been added to the already-stout cast, pushing it up to around 75 performers. Many of the new faces play farm animals such as little pigs, hens and sheep.
"We had so many people come out because it was such a popular show last year,” said Grant, of Felton.
Leading the ballet adventure is Dorothy, a farm girl from Kansas who gets swept into a tornado while inside her house with her dog, Toto, to Munchkin Land in the world of Oz. Dorothy is praised by the Munchkins after her arrival, since her house crushes and kills the Wicked Witch of the East, who’s been oppressing the Munchkins. There, Dorothy meets Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, who magically places Dorothy in the Witch of East’s ruby red slippers. But the Witch of the East’s sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, isn’t fond of the farm girl and wants revenge.
Still lost and homesick, Glinda tells Dorothy to journey to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard of Oz, someone who can help her get back to Kansas.
Along the way, she encounters the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Woodcutter and the Scarecrow; those three are in search of the Wizard, too.
“The whole show is really exciting,” said Felton resident Arlene Maheu, playing Dorothy. “As Dorothy, you get to be in the entire show, so it’s really enjoyable.”
Dorothy also gets to hang with the coolest dog in the world, Toto, a terrier with happy feet.
"I like to dance with Dorothy,” said the 6-year-old Brynn String, who’s playing Toto. "And I like to wag my tail.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT “Wizard of Oz,” presented by Diamond Dance Company
WHEN 7 p.m., Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5
WHERE Milford High School, 1019 N. Walnut St., Milford
COST $15 for adults, $10 for students
INFO Visit southerndelawareballet.com