Theater group presents 'The Wizard of Oz'


From Contributed Reports
The Rocky Mount Telegram

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Activate Drama is presenting the classic story of “The Wizard of Oz” at the Dunn Center as part of two simultaneous, three-weeklong camps running from July 10-29. Performances will be at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. For information on purchasing tickets, contact activate.drama@gmail.com.

“The Wizard of Oz” tells the story of Dorothy Gale, a young Kansas girl, who is dropped into a marvelous land where scarecrows dance and monkeys fly. The musical follows Dorothy as she must travel through the strange world and find her way home. Along the way, she encounters many fantastical characters and learns the valuable lesson that “there is no place like home.” The classic show is a favorite of all ages, and the Activate campers and staff alike are excited about being involved in the production. Joseph Davis, a 16-year-old enrolled in one of the dual camps, says he is “most excited about being able to experience, and be a part of, the iconic story of 'The Wizard of Oz.’”

The first camp, Munchkin Mania, is offered for 7- to 13-year-olds who will be playing the munchkins in “The Wizard of Oz.” Broadway Boot Camp is the second camp and offers classes in voice, dance and acting for 12- to 18-year-olds. Campers from Broadway Boot Camp have been cast in the various secondary and ensemble dancing and singing roles within the production. Each camp offers age-appropriate challenges for the groups.

Hannah Mennig, 11, is cast as the Mayor of Munchkinland and says her favorite part of camp is “discovering how to be a Munchkin and working with the other actors in the scene.”

The nine leads in the full-length production have been cast from five teenagers enrolled in Broadway Boot Camp as well as four interns working for Activate Drama’s 2017 season. The lead actors began rehearsing at the end of June, two weeks before the start of the double camps, to get a jumpstart on the show.

Danelle Cauley, the founder of Activate Drama, and director of the show, explained the unique opportunities and challenges this show presents.

“We chose 'The Wizard of Oz.’ for our full-length play this summer for many reasons,” Cauley said. “This classic story has many great roles for children, teens and adults and challenges the imagination in how to create the magical world of Oz. Our team decided early on that we will not use projections or special effects, such as theater flashpots and fog machines, to tell this version of the story. It’s live theater, and we are trying to solve all creative challenges in a way that utilizes the best things about live theater. Puppets, actors, dancing, costuming, scenery ... we are using them all and creating theater magic to bring this favorite to life for Rocky Mount!”

The camps have more than 40 students enrolled. While most of the campers come from the Rocky Mount, Wilson and Edgecombe area, the teenager playing Scarecrow has traveled from Tennessee.

Another hails from Belarus. The students are not the only ones traveling from outside Rocky Mount. There are 16 interns and staff working with Activate Drama who come from all different backgrounds of education, including current and former students of ECU, N.C. State, UNC-Greensboro, Ohio University and Rocky Mount’s own N.C. Wesleyan College. That list also includes several Rocky Mount teachers, a seamstress from Missouri, a Tennessean teacher and a Russian international student.