UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | May 27, 2024

DSU theater department revamps “Wizard of Oz” play

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While you may be familiar with a talking scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion, Dixie State University’s theater department brings a whole new meaning to the upcoming play, “The Wizard of Oz.” 

Although the script stays true to the movie, Kristeen Davies, the assistant professor of theater arts and director of the play, said the costume designs, music and set stray far away from the “sugary” nature of the movie. 

“It is dark,” Davies said. “We have taken it into the steampunk realm, and we are viewing it the way L. Frank Baum wrote it, which is a populist fairy tale.”

For their senior project, Allie B
aguley and Bailee Barnes, senior theater majors from St. George, spent the summer designing Dorothy’s hometown in Kansas and the Land of Oz’s Emerald City.

“I wanted to have a good contrast between Kansas and Oz because Oz is spectacular and crazy, so Kansas needed to be stark and bland, something that Dorothy would be ready to leave,” Baguley said. 

She also wanted to ensure the characters introduced in Kansas would be distinguishable later on when Dorothy meets them again in the Land of Oz.

“I focused on the characters that switch over in Oz, making sure there was some kind of reflection in their costumes, even if it’s just a small piece so you can say, ‘Oh hey, that guy is going to turn into the scarecrow,'” Baguley said.

After Dorothy is picked up by a tornado and dropped in the Land of Oz, she is welcomed by Glinda the good witch, or so we are led to believe.

“Glinda is not the squeaky clean person that she says she is,” Davies said. “The Wicked Witch is evil, but Glinda herself is not a very nice person to [Dorothy], making her go on that journey and risk her life to get rid of the witch.”

The munchkins will also appear drastically different, greeting Dorothy with gears in their hands as they dance around in brightly colored clothes representing various centuries of time.

“The munchkins are very, very bright, but as [Dorothy] gets further into what she is doing, it gets darker and scarier, until we get to the Witch, where everything is made of steel and rust,”Davies said.

Davies said the steel is reminiscent of where the Wicked Witch of the West originated, which is the same material people use to build grain silos in the midwest.

The Witch’s well-known flying monkeys will also soar past the stage and drop down from the rafters during the play. 

Lexi DeGraw, a senior theater major from Hurricane, and Rebekah Romney, a junior theater major from Duck Creek, were cast as the Witch’s evil flying monkeys. During the show, they propel almost 30 feet down to the stage.

While DeGraw has to overcome her fear of heights, Romney said it has been quite challenging embracing her inner monkey.

“I am not used to being super weird with my body so trying to embody a monkey [is] a challenge I will be hurdling,” Romney said.

The flying monkeys are among several characters who will be performing a series of strenuous activities on stage.

“If they’re in the play they are going to get a workout because of the movement and choreography they’re doing,” Davies said. “[One actor] deadlifts Scarecrow over his head, people vault over the railings as they come from the back of the stage, and some are jumping on trampolines on the stage, so there’s a lot going on in the show.”

Students can come and watch a free preview of the “Wizard of Oz” Nov. 8 in the Dolores Dore Eccles Fine Art Center Main Stage at 7:30 p.m. The play officially opens to the public Nov. 9-18. To buy tickets, visit www.dsutix.com or contact the box office at 435-652-7800.