POSTED ON JUNE 9, 2010:
Not in Kansas or Tulsa
The Wizard of Oz shows the never-before-seen and realized in coming production
Everything Revealed. “I think what’s kind of cool is when you watch the movie, you see exactly what editor wanted you to see,” said Cassie Okenksa, who plays Dorothy. “On stage, you have the freedom to see how everybody’s reacting to everything. You see how the Tinman (Peter Gosik) reacts to the Scarecrow (Adam Jepsen); how the Scarecrow reacts to me.”
The touring production of The Wizard of Oz is, according to its Dorothy, something of an escape from the real world.
"I'm from Toledo, and the auto industry there was hit kind of hard," said Cassie Okenka, aka Dorothy Gale in NETworks Presentation's touring version of WOZ, based on the Royal Shakespeare Company's celebration of MGM's 1939 film. "It's rough for families to find an opportunity to enjoy themselves and forget about horrible things happening in the world."
Okenka said WOZ is that opportunity.
The actress and singer was most recently seen on MTV's reality show Legally Blonde: The Search for Elle Woods, where she made it to the final 10.
She said while much of the musical production follows the original story line of the film, there are some differences, like the inclusion of a dance number cut from the movie and additional lines to each of the songs, which allow the audience to get to know better some of the supporting characters in the show.
Okenka said the best thing about playing Dorothy in this production -- and she admits she's got "big shoes to fill" -- has been the freedom to reinvent Dorothy as she chooses.
"We got blessed with a fantastic creative time from the U.K.," she said. "The Wizard of Oz isn't as big of a deal in society there as it is here, so we got more freedom to experiment with our roles and characters, rather than recreating what we all know and love on screen."
Okenka said she didn't watch the film or attempt to research the role of Dorothy prior to playing her last year.
"I wanted to take from the movie what I remembered seeing when I was younger," she said. "I didn't want to make a straight recreation of her."
She said remembering her life as a young teenager also helped influence her portrayal.
By the time the tour finishes at the end of this month -- it kicked off last October -- Okenka will have played in about 470 performances of WOZ.
"I don't think I expected it to be as good as we are," she said. "When you're used to only seeing the story on TV, in the house in your PJs, it's not this big, grand adventure.
"I think what's kind of cool is when you watch the movie, you see exactly what editor wanted you to see," she said. "On stage, you have the freedom to see how everybody's reacting to everything. You see how the Tinman (Peter Gosik) reacts to the Scarecrow (Adam Jepsen); how the Scarecrow reacts to me. You see the relationships wouldn't see based on the editing of the movie.
"When the Lion (Jesse Coleman) says he's scared of sheep, I want to say (in the movie) you (saw) a close-up of Dorothy. You have no idea the Tinman and Scarecrow are shaking their heads. We get to invent moments we don't remember from the film because they didn't really exist for us."
Nigel West directs the production, brought to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center's Chapman Music Hall, 110 E. Second St., by Celebrity Attractions June 15-20. Tickets start at $20 and are available at tulsapac.com.
It's a Hot SummerStage
The Tulsa PAC's SummerStage series is in full swing, with shows every weekend of this month and next.
Light Opera Oklahoma continues its run of The Boy Friend, starring Patrick Howle and Joanie Brittingham, June 15-16, 20, 27 and 29-30. In addition, Patience, LOOK's modern reinterpretation of Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert outdated opera, plays in the John H. Williams Theatre June 10-13, 18-19, 26 and July 2.
The show should appeal to anyone with an interest in the 1960s and '70s and all the debauchery that goes along with that era. Tickets are $25-$29 or $19.67 is purchased at lightoperaok.org.
On June 11-12 at 7:30pm in the Liddy Doenges Theatre, Jeff Shadley, Olivia Duhon and Shadley's 16-piece big band will present "The Sinatra Concept," an evening of songs that span Sinatra's repertoire and celebrate his many collaborations. Tickets to the event are $17.
On June 11 at 8pm, Greenwich Productions presents Horace and Daphne, an original play by local dramatist and director Tim Neller.
In it, Daphne, who has devoted herself to being a good wife and mother, and her son, Dandoon, attempt to bring her husband, Horace, back from the brink of insanity. Horace has spent his entire life working obsessively toward a singular and obscure goal -- winning the gold medal in giant egg sitting, a little-known Olympic event.
Tickets to the show are $6.
On June 12 at 8pm, Anthony Bourdain, author, celebrity chef and world traveler, graces the Chapman Music Hall with his presence and describes his 28-year journey of countries and kitchens.
Tickets to the lecture are $35.50 and $45.50.
On June 13, at 2pm and 4:30pm, Steve Lancaster of Top Hat Magic & Costumes presents "Illusions by Steve Lancaster" in the Doenges Theatre.
Lancaster has worked for 33 years, the lifetime of Top Hat, to perfect his skills as a master magician and stand-up comedian. His shows are meant to delight children of all ages. Tickets are $10 for riser seating and $15 for table seating.
Tickets and other information about all of the PAC's SummerStage events are available at the PAC's website.
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