On Feb. 7, RiverPark Center audience members will be following the yellow brick road with Dorothy and Toto as they meet several characters who travel with them to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard of Oz.
The musical show that will blow into Owensboro has been on a national tour since September 2017. Emily Perzan, who has played the Wicked Witch of the West since the beginning of the tour, said she feels the audience’s excitement from the first moment they arrive in Oz.
“It is really exciting,” Perzan said. “The ensemble’s beautiful costumes…they are so colorful.”
Based on L. Frank Baum’s book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” and celebrating the 1939 MGM classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” audience members are transported through tones of sepia and color, just as the film presented the story. Timeless scores, special effects, dazzling choreography and spectacular costuming bring the story to the stage.
“It really is great for all ages. I always tell people that,” Perzan said, referring to the theatre goers in each city.
Perzan said that while on tour, each city’s audience is different, depending on location. When they are in most cities, the audience is a mix of families and children, and when they go to retirement communities, audiences often mention how they remember the movies release almost 80 years ago.
Perzan grew up in Kensington, Conn., and went on to major in musical theatre while honing her training in many forms of dance, voice and acting. This is her first national tour and she enjoys several aspects of being on the road while touring.
“Mentally it is very interesting,” Perzan said. “For instance, we are currently driving through Wyoming and there are beautiful landscapes of sand and rocks…red stone. Then 20 minutes later, there are 3 inches of snow.”
The “Wizard of Oz” tour ensemble began in Lancaster, Penn. where members met for 10 days to rehearse and then the production moved to Arkansas where technical aspects of the show were rehearsed and performed. Then the show hit the road and has been going ever since.
Perzan said something all of the touring actors have learned is how to layer, since they are living out of a suitcase. Their recent tour stops have been out west, and Owensboro is the stop right after Bozeman, Mt.
“Last year was way more ping pong,” Perzan said, about the tour locations. This year it is more by region something that she appreciates.
Some of the performers have worked with each other in other productions but most have not, and the integrations and friendships have all been positive, according to Perzan.
While on tour, Perzan experienced the show as an audience member for three weeks while her understudy played the Wicked Witch due to Perzan breaking her arm and being in a full arm cast. As an audience member Perzan realized how magical the touring show really was, especially the second act when Dorothy and friends arrive in Oz.
“It really was a different perspective,” Perzan said.
Perzan said she often meets parents who say this musical is one of the first they have taken their children to, and now the kids enjoy going to musical theatre productions.
Just as Dorothy discovers her inner courage through the journey, the traveling performers hope the audience experiences the lasting impact of Baum’s original story.
Tickets to the Feb. 7 RiverPark Center performance are available here or by calling the box office at 270-687-2770.