Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Dorothy Takes to Her Toes on This Yellow Brick Road Trek

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Dorothy Takes to Her Toes on This Yellow Brick Road Trek

Article excerpt

Kansas farm girl Dorothy will slip on ruby red ballet slippers to pirouette her way down the Yellow Brick Road in Kansas Ballet's production of "The Wizard of Oz," which will get its world premiere Saturday afternoon at Topeka High School.

The performance at 4 p.m. Saturday in Hoehner Auditorium of the school, 800 S.W. 10th, is the culmination of a three-week intensive study program at Kansas Ballet Academy, 4745 N.W. Hunters Ridge Circle. Tickets, which are $10 for everyone 3 and older, can be purchased at the doors or in advance by calling (855) 222-2849 or online at Tututix.com.

Academy owners Stephanie Heston and Alexander Smirnov choreographed "The Wizard of Oz," something Heston has long wanted to do.

"Of course, I'm from Kansas, so I'm partial to the story," Heston said. "I think a lot of us here love that story, so I've always wanted to create the ballet 'The Wizard of Oz.'"

"Summer intensive is the perfect time to do that," she continued, "because I have the kids here five days a week for eight hours a day so I could create the whole ballet in three weeks, which we did."

The music for the ballet includes some instrumental treatments of songs from the 1939 MGM movie musical based on L. Frank Baum's novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."

However, Heston said the production is "ballet, not musical theater," so some scenes use classical works, such as the music Jacques Offenbach wrote for "Le papillon" ("The Butterfly"). Music from the thunderstorm scene of the ballet "La fille mal gardee" ("The Wayward Girl") lent itself to the scene where a tornado sweeps Dorothy from Kansas to Oz.

The cast features most of the best-known "Wizard of Oz" characters: Dorothy (Margaret Turner) and her traveling pals, Scarecrow (Kodi Scardina), Tin Man (Nina Tancabelic) and Lion (Xianne Williams). Witches of both varieties -- good and evil -- appear with Kira Williams dancing the role of Glinda and Valerie Stinson dancing the Wicked Witch. Of course, there has to be a Wizard (Joseph Pennington) and an Auntie Em (Rosemary Walker).

And what is Oz without Munchkins?

Natalia Buono, Rylee Clinton, Madison Gill, Lily Lefferd, Sommer Loehr, Miranda Mazur, Guinevere Nelson, Ashtyn Parcaro, Joann Smith, Zoe Watson and Gaige Williams dance the role of the diminutive Ozmites.

Lorena Buono with Madison Boswell, Winter Doud, MacKenzie Howard, EmmaRae Hubener, Alea Meadows and Emerson Selk form the tornado.

Heston called the production "very kid friendly," adding, "The Wicked Witch is not super scary."

Three NOTO Arts District artists created backdrops from Kansas Ballet's "The Wizard of Oz." Barbara Waterman Peters painted the Wicked Witch's castle; Alexander Lancaster did the Kansas farm scene; and Shelly Bedsaul devised the Land of Oz setting. …

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