‘Wizard of Oz’ Comes to Island Park
Published: Friday, December 6, 2013
Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013 00:12
To round out 2013, the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre is putting on a show with a story generations have enjoyed. “The Wizard of Oz,” made timeless by the 1939 film starring Judy Garland, springs up at The Stage at Island Park for ten performances over the next two weeks.
“This year the movie is celebrating its 75th anniversary,” Scott Brusven, FMCT ar¬tistic director, said. “This particular version of the musical is pretty close to that movie version, and so you’re going to see a lot of those things that you’ll see in that show.”
Mirroring the movie has brought a set of interesting challenges for the folks of FMCT, as countless special effects are present in the film (Glinda’s traveling bubble, the flying monkeys, melting the Wicked Witch, etc.). This meant finding ways to translate those special effects to the stage, and making it work with costumes, the set, and the actors.
“The special effects are really what make this show happen,” Brusven said. “We don’t have the fly houses that you will see in some of the theaters around the region, so we have to kind of make it up.”
Though limited in what they can do as far as special effects, FMCT has relied on one important form of “visual trickery” to their advantage: pyrotechnics. Recreating the fiery chamber of Oz, setting the Scare¬crow on fire, and several other scenes all rely on fire, and FMCT wanted to go deeper than simple solutions.
Recreating the movie as best as possible and heightening the atmosphere has been key to this production, which had its design concept drawn from one line from the film: “Will you take us to see the crowned heads of Europe?” This seemingly insignificant quote from Dorothy to Professor Marvel provided a whirlwind of inspiration for de-signing the entire show.
“We’re actually transporting all of the Land of Oz to Europe,” Brusven said, “and so we’re going to see Dutch-inspired cos¬tuming and scenic devices over in Munch¬kinland. We’re going to see the Emerald Isle represented in Emerald City, and we’re go¬ing to see a Slavic-Russian inspiration for the Land of the Winkies.”
Lighting and coloring for each locale in Oz is unique as well, with blue, green and yellow boldly represented. Forty cast mem¬bers come together to make all of this hap¬pen, coming from across the Fargo-Moor¬head community.
With cast members ranging in age from five years old to their 60s, this production bridges generations with a story that has resonated in film for 75 years. Though that milestone is remarkable, Brusven wants this production to make a mark with area residents in partial response to a concerning fact.
“I heard a statistic not too long ago that the young generation will be the first gen¬eration that will not have any attachment to ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ That will not be the case if I have anything to do with it and make the story stay alive. It talks a lot about friend¬ship and relationships and family…and it’s a perfect time for it to happen.”