A month ago, productions were under way for our first show of our 50th season, Wizard of Oz, and none of us truly anticipated the response and attendance for this widely anticipated production. After seven performances, SWPH had over 1,600 patrons attend Wizard of Oz, and almost 100 of them chose to buy season tickets. With an approximately 90 person cast and crew, director Melissa McSpadden had a doozy of a directorial debut. SWPH hasn’t seen sell out shows such as these since 2009’s production of Sound Of Music. The cast sported around 60 children, many of whom were munchkins, while the older kids donned various costumes to be trees, snowflakes, Jitterbugs, and Winkies.
Laura Burleigh, a Pharmacy student at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, landed Dorothy as her debut role at SWPH. Laura was supported by SWPH veterans, Dean McSpadden as the Scarecrow, Josh McSpadden as the Tinman, and Sean Williams as the Cowardly Lion. Julie Williams played Glinda the Good, while Julie Barnett and her famous cackle won her the role of the Wicked Witch of the West.
New special effects were used to help bring Wizard of Oz to life. A new projector was used to cast a tornado onto the wall, as well as a projection of the Wizard as a terrifying giant floating head! Fog machines aided in the Witch appearing and disappearing, and thanks to David Berrong, a lift was used to help the Wicked Witch melt, a scene which audiences showed their appreciation for every night with applause and whoops of triumph at the Witch’s defeat!
We are so very excited to see the love of theatre taking hold in our young thespians. Camp Oz, a summer camp held at SWPH in July, was a huge success! We anticipated an attendance of around 20, and found ourselves hosting almost 70 kids of varying ages! We hope to see this love of theatre to continue in the future, and were thrilled to see a wonderful turnout of kids for auditions for It’s a Wonderful Life, as well. Our children are our future. We look forward to seeing another 50 years at SWPH!