Wes Kar/Special for The Foothills Focus
Peyton Wayne, who plays the Scarecrow, and Madeline Wessel, who plays Dorothy,
practice a scene in preparation for Musical Theater of Anthem’s rendition of The
Wizard of Oz. Four performances of the show will take place from Friday – Sunday
at Boulder Creek High School.





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Off to see the Wizard
Marc Buckhout ~ Managing Editor ~ 1/27/2010

Last week’s weather in Arizona, including a tornado touching down in Scottsdale and tornado watches around the Valley including in Cave Creek, may have reminded some of weather associated with America’s Heartland.
But as Dorothy astutely told Toto in the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz”, “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more.”
Those that attend Boulder Creek High School Friday – Sunday will see Musical Theater of Anthem’s rendition of the classic under the direction of producer Jackie Hammond.
The non-profit, in its second season, will have 110 actors take the stage ranging in age from 7 to 14, as the theater’s largest show to date.
Up from 27 children that performed in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” a little more than a year ago, Hammond doesn’t suggest that it has been as easy as following the yellow brick road, but through word of mouth she has seen interest build.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good reputation,” she said. “We’re a no-cut group and we make sure everyone in our productions get their moment to shine. For those that aren’t experienced enough to where they’re ready for a leading roll we might give them multiple small parts to give them a chance to build confidence.”
KC Lindley, who is directing the double cast show, said The Wizard of Oz is a tale that draws people in.
“I think everybody has a character they can relate to,” said Lindley, an Arizona State University student, who once played the lion. “I think people like the journey because it’s a hopeful one. The characters come to realize that even though they go to see the Wizard because they think they need a heart, or brains or courage that they have already shown they have those things during the journey.”
The Emerald Cast, which largely has the older more experienced actors, includes Peyton Wayne, as the Scarecrow.
For Wayne, 11, The Wizard of Oz will be her second show with Musical Theater of Anthem.
“I like it because I’m getting to stretch my acting skills,” she said. “I like the Scarecrow because he’s a humorous character. It’s a lot of fun. I have a lot of opportunities in this show.”
Taylor Ellsworth, who Hammonds calls a, “triple threat” for her singing, dancing and acting ability, has been a part of all of Musical Theater of Anthem’s shows. Playing the Tin Man, the 11-year-old said she continues to learn each time out.
“KC has taught me about making your character your own,” she said. “The bigger the shows have gotten the more fun it is. I like to sing a lot and I can relate to the Tin Man. He has a heart. He just doesn’t know it.”
Hannah Long, 12, like Ellsworth has also been in every Musical Theater of Anthem production. Playing the Cowardly Lion she said that it helps to work with people she’s familiar with.
“I can go up to somebody like Taylor if I’m having trouble with something and ask her for help,” she said.
Long said of all the roles she has played the Cowardly Lion is her favorite.
“I think it’s really cool the way he talks,” she said. “I like acting best, because I like making the audience laugh.”
And the trio of characters never would have met if not for Dorothy, who is looking to make her way to Emerald City to visit the Wizard of Oz.
Madeline Wessel, 10, said she was thrilled to get the roll of Dorothy.
“I can’t wait to sing, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’,” she said.
The Emerald cast will open the four-play run of the show with a 7 p.m. performance Friday and then comeback for a matinee performance at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Ruby cast will perform at 7 p.m. on Saturday and do a 1 p.m. performance Sunday.
Boulder Creek High School’s Performing Arts Center is located at 40404 N. Gavilan Peak Parkway in Anthem.
MTA is collecting canned food items for Desert Mission Food Bank. Audience members that donate a canned food item will receive a free concession item at the show. For information on Musical Theater of Anthem go to www.musicaltheatreofanthem.org.