GWTG stages Wizard of Oz musical

The Grey Wellington Theatre Guild (GWTG) is promising plenty of music, magic and munchkins as it brings the classic stage version of The Wizard of Oz to the Harriston Town Hall Theatre this fall.

The show, to hit the stage in mid-November, is a full-scale musical production featuring a cast of over 40 actors, singers and dancers and an extensive backstage crew.

Jill Schalk, of Listowel, who has appeared in previous guild musical productions Annie and Ebenzer, has been cast as Dorothy, the tornado-travelling Kansas farm girl who makes an eclectic collection of friends on the road to Oz. Alison Moran of Owen Sound takes on the role of the Cowardly Lion, while Dan Bieman and Jacob Bieman of Harriston, play the Tin Man and Scarecrow respectively.

Maija McCahery of Mount Forest tackles the iconic role of the Wicked Witch of the West, while Erin Raftis, who also choreographs the show’s lively musical numbers, plays Glinda the Good Witch.

Other members of the ensemble come from Harriston, Palmerston, Clifford, Mount Forest, Fergus, Mapleton, Gowanstown, Listowel, Durham and Hanover.

The guild is utilizing live music for the production, under the musical direction of Harriston-area residents Ethel Forbes and Laura Gray, and the show will feature all the tunes made popular by the classic MGM movie, including Over the Rainbow, We’re Off to See the Wizard and Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead.

The cast was assembled in July and has been working under the leadership of veteran director Patrick C. Smith, who passed away on Oct. 8. Smith founded the guild in 1974 and in 2013 was recognized with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution to the dramatic arts across the region.

The group is dedicating the production to Smith.

“Patrick has put together an incredible cast and crew and created an amazing vision for this show and we are honoured to bring it to the stage,” said assistant director Peggy Raftis, who is guiding the cast through the remaining phases of production.

The Wizard of Oz opens a 10-show run at the Harriston Town Hall theatre on Nov. 13 at 7:30pm and continues Nov. 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, and 28 at 7:30pm and Nov. 15 and 22 at 2pm. Tickets are available for $20 at Harriston Home Hardware, Walsh’s IDA Pharmacy in Mount Forest or by calling 519-338-2778.

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