‘Oz’ in Ascension: Theater takes audience on dizzying journey back home

The audience is in for some dizzying transformations in the Ascension Community Theatre’s production of “The Wizard of Oz,” which starts its run Thursday, July 10.

“The script doesn’t call for a black and white set, but we wanted to pay tribute to the MGM film,” says Heidi Frederic, who is co-directing the production with Mark Lambert. “So, we start out in Kansas, where everything is black and white. Everything is in color when Dorothy lands in Munchkinland.”

And the tornado? Let’s just say the audience will be reeling.

The company will stage the Royal Shakespeare Co.’s version of the stage play, based on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” also the basis for MGM’s 1939 film, “The Wizard of Oz.”

“It was closest to the movie,” Frederic says. “It has the same songs as the movie with the exception of an added song called, ‘The Jitterbugs.’ It’s when the Wicked Witch calls out her Jitterbugs to go after Dorothy. It’s a fun song.”

Dorothywill be played by Elizabeth Olah, who will be going up against Lee Ferris as the Wicked Witch. Toto, Dorothy’s faithful black terrier, will be played by a live terrier mix.

“It’s the best part in the play,” Ferris says of the Wicked Witch. “I’ve always been a big fan of the movie, so I knew I wanted to try out. I was too old for Dorothy and too tall to be a Munchkin, so I thought, ‘Well, it’ll have to the Wicked Witch.’ Now my kids are asking, ‘Mom, when are you going to start acting?’”

Ferris rolls her eyes.

Olah also is having fun playing Dorothy. She’s a fan of the film and has been commuting to rehearsal each day from New Orleans, where she’s a student at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.

“I’ve been a part of some community theater productions in my hometown, Alexandria,” she says. “This is my first time acting with Ascension Community Theatre. My friend, Dustin Delaune, is playing the Scarecrow and told me about the auditions.”

Olah has learned a lot about Dorothy.

“She amazes me,” Olah says. “She’s surrounded by all of this glitz, yet she still wants to go home, where there isn’t any glamor.”

Because there’s no place like home.

CAST: Elizabeth Olah, Dorothy; Dustin Delaune, Scarecrow; Chris Bourgeois, Tin Man; Stuart Lewis, Lion; Emily Gyan, Aunt Em/Glinda; Bill Bozzlle, Uncle Henry/Guard; Rick Esposito, Professor Marvel/Wizard; Lee Ferris, Wicked Witch; Andrea Delatte, Ozian; Tesia Gibson, Ozian/Jitterbug; Brady Moran, Ozian/Winkie; Marla Gonzales, Ozian; Chloe Castello, Ozian/Jitterbug; Bailey Karr, Ozian/Monkey; Michael Nelson, Ozian/Winkie; Ethan Spinks, Ozian/Winkie; Talitha Leblanc, Ozian; Travis Daigle, Ozian/Winkie; Ronald Braud, Ozian; Dane Thibodeaux, Ozian/Crow/Winkie; Benjamin Moran, Ozian/Tree; Cody McManus, Ozian/Tree/Winkie; Jessica Watson, Ozian/Jitterbug/Crow; Lee Ann Hernandez, Ozian/Jitterbug/Tree; Nikki Hall, Ozian/Jitterbug/Crow. Munchkins -- Katelyn Roper, Mayor; Hall Aldridge, Coroner/Monkey; Sarah Delatte, Barrister/Monkey; Vivian Hall, Munchkin 1; Ainslee Hines, Munchkin 2; Madeline Ruby Pittman, Munchkin Woman; Madison Banks, City Father 1; Alayna Jaeger, City Father 2; Nicholas Burrell, City Father 3/Monkey; Rex Marshall, Lollipop Guild; Jackson Frederic, Lollipop Guild; Ethan Gaines, Lollipop Guild; Arleigh Hines, Lullaby League; Lindsey Abbess, Lullaby League; Isabella Francois, Lullaby League/Ozian/Monkey; Lane Richard, Fiddler/Braggart/Nikko; Clayton Delaune, Munchkin; Molly Kilgore, Munchkin; James Bourgeois, Munchkin; Sawyer Spruill, Munchkin.

DIRECTORS: Heidi Alford Frederic and Mark Lambert.