Director Ron Anderson can’t imagine a better play for the holidays than “The Wizard of Oz.”
“It’s a play about home,” Anderson said. “What everybody wants is a place to call home.”
And as Dorothy says at the end, “There’s no place like home.”
And Toto, too
If the actors aren’t careful, they might be upstaged by a Yorkshire terrier.
Lacy, owned by Springer Theater Academy graduate Izzy Brown, is playing Toto, Dorothy’s dog in “The Wizard of Oz,” which opens tonight in the Springer Opera House.
The past week or so, Lacy’s been bonding with Lindsay Fuller, who plays Dorothy. Fuller had to learn a few commands for her to follow.
Fuller is making her fourth appearance at the Springer, following roles in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Seussical.”
The last time she was on the Springer stage was in 2006 in “Romeo and Juliet.”
Since then, she says she’s done a couple of shows, but mainly, she’s been working as a massage therapist in Colorado.
“I wanted to get back on stage and here I am,” she said.
Believe it or not, she’s never seen “The Wizard of Oz” all the way through. The flying monkeys and the Winkies scared her when she was little, so when they showed up, she left the room.
But she’s no stranger to this show. It’s her fourth time playing Dorothy.
“I haven’t done it for seven years,” Fuller said. “It’s a different show every time. I’m having a blast. This is like my second family.”
Dorothy’s new friends
Once Joseph Brewer put on his Tin Man costume, he knew he was in “The Wizard of Oz.”
He practiced a little this summer as he sang “Over the Rainbow” in a competition by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He came in second.
In his first Springer show, Brewer says he’s having a great time.
“It’s a very creative atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a very professional place.”
The four friends, Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow (Shane Hall) and the Cowardly Lion (Michael Stiggers), had an instant bond, said Brewer.
“The chemistry is great,” he said.
In fact, they’ve been going out to eat and watching movies and spending a lot of time together.
Hall said the entire rehearsal schedule has been nonstop.
“It’s adventurous and fun,” he said.
Hall has double duties. Besides starring as the Scarecrow, he’s the choreographer.
“Choreographing a show at the Springer the first time, I’m glad it is this show,” he said. “It’s my own sort of magic, but I keep the heart of the MGM classic.”
He’s using the same sort of contemporary choreography from “Wicked,” and blending it with the kind of familiar dance moves from the 1939 movie.
This version adds “The Jitterbug,” which was cut from the movie.
“I want it to be a show-stopper,” Hall said.
Stiggers is having fun. He loves the choreography, even though it’s difficult.
“I think the audiences will be thrilled to see the show,” Stiggers said. “It’s not just the spectacle of it. It’s the friends their journey together.”
The Wicked Witch
Terrorizing Munchkinland, Dorothy and her new friends, is the Wicked Witch of the West, played by Danielle Patterson. Complete with green theatrical makeup, the same shade used by the actors playing Elphaba in “Wicked,” Patterson is reveling in the role.
“I’ve always wanted to be the bad guy,” she said. “This is the role I’ve always wanted.”
Patterson, who is the Springer’s box office manager, was last on the Springer stage in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” in 2003.
“This is a bigger role,” Patterson said. “It’s time-consuming” while performing her daytime duties in the box office.
Anderson cast 44 Springer Theater Academy students in the show. Because there are six morning shows (all sold out), he has two casts of 22. Costumer Tiffany Galey had to make costumes for each Munchkin.
Most of the young actors on the Blue Team have seen the movie multiple times, with Misa McGhee claiming to have seen it 1,000 times.
Dorothy: Lindsay Fuller was last seen at the Springer Opera House as Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet.” Favorite roles include Dainty June in “Gypsy,” “Squeaky” Fromme in “Assassins” and Bonnie in “Anything Goes.” She played Gertrude McFuzz in the Springer’s production of “Seussical the Musical” and Shy in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”
Scarecrow: Shane Hall danced the role of Dream Curly and also appeared as Slim in last spring’s “Oklahoma!” He appeared as Bickle the super nerd in “Footloose.” National tours include “Cats” (Mr. Mistoffelees), “Chicago,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “White Christmas.” He is the owner and artistic director of Prodigy Dance Centre and this summer taught musical theatre for the Springer Theater Academy.
Tin Man: Joseph Brewer teaches musical theater for the Springer Theater Academy and voice and piano at Wynnton Arts Academy. His credits include “Guys and Dolls,” “The Magic Flute” and “The Music Man” at the LaGrange Lyric Theatre and “Into the Woods” at Columbus State University. He won two first place awards at the Georgia National Association of Teachers of Singing competition this year, and won second place in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Songster Competition this summer. His first big break was playing Sam in G”reen Eggs and Ham” with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra when he was 9.
Lion: Michael Stiggers is a theater education graduate of Columbus State University. Springer audiences were exposed to Michael’s ... errr ... skills in portraying Buddy “Keno” Walsh in “The Full Monty” this fall and he appeared in “Bear Country.” Other Springer productions include “Peter Pan,” “Footloose,” “Big River,” “Charm School” and “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline.” He has worked with the Springer Theater Academy for four years. He has also worked as an actor/educator with CLIMB Theater in Minnesota and recently performed in “Rent” with the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre in Pennsylvania.
Professor Marvel/Oz: Adam Archer appeared in the Mainstage productions of “Bear Country,” “Inherit the Wind,” “The Father of the Bride” and “The Complete History of America (Abridged)”; in the Springer Children’s Theater productions of “Big Friendly Giant” and “Afternoon of the Elves”; and in the Studio II productions of “Crimes of the Heart” and “A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline.” He is the Springer’s assistant education coordinator and improvisation teacher. He studied improvisation with Second City and is studying at Whole World Theatre in Atlanta. He has performed with CLIMB Theatre in Minnesota, Barter Theatre in Virginia and Rose of Athens (Ga.).
Witch of the West: Danielle Patterson has been the Springer’s Box Office manager for five years. She appeared on stage at Wallace Theatre in “West Side Story,” “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Anne of Green Gables.” Her other credits include “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “University” and “The Great All-American Musical Disaster.”
Glinda: Koqunia Forte raduated from the University of Georgia with her master’s in theater performance. She played “Peter Pan” at the Springer last December and taught at the Springer Theater Academy this summer. Roles include “The Fantasticks,” “Antigone,” “TATS: The Experience,” “Les Liasons Dangereuses” and “Urinetown: The Musical.” She learned the importance of gratitude, even in the midst of poverty, working with young girls in Tanzania in 2008 where her students made games out of water bottles, chalk and yarn and made theater in the shade of trees.
Aunt Em: Karen Lord has been in “Inherit the Wind,” “Carousel,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Big River” at the Springer. She has appeared in many roles here but she is particularly fond of her roles in “Man of La Mancha” and “Jekyll and Hyde.” She has also appeared in “The King and I,” “Ragtime,” “Camelot,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Annie,” “The Phantom,” “The Music Man,” “The Sound of Music,” “My Fair Lady” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Uncle Henry/Guard: Raymond Campbell was in “Oklahoma!,” “Inherit the Wind,” “Peter Pan” and “Footloose” last season at the Springer. In recent years he’s been seen in “Charm School” and “Father of the Bride.” He has appeared in more than 60 roles over the years. Raymond was given the Director’s Award in 2009 for his years of service to the Springer, the State Theater of Georgia.
Toto: Lacy is homeschooled a Yorkshire terrier owned by Springer Theater Academy graduate Izzy Brown. Lacy is making her Springer debut.
Rebecca Ames: A homeschooled ninth-grader, she was in “A Little Princess” at the Family Theatre.
Nicki Ammerman: She was in “Winnie the Pooh” for the Springer Children’s Theater. She has been a Springer Theater Academy student since 2000, and won the Best Team Player award six times. She is a member of the stilt-walking team and the Springer Student Advisory Board. At Columbus High, where she’s a sophomore, she is performing and acting as dance captain for “Hairspray” at CHS, she was in and was dance captain for “All Shook Up,” and appeared in “Enter Laughing” and “Anatomy of Gray.”
Miranda Bray: Is a sophomore at Northside High where she’s appeared in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “How to Eat Like a Child” and “Secrets and Spies.” She collects Madame Alexander dolls and has almost every doll from “The Wizard of Oz” series.
Jennifer Castleberry: Is a freshman at Auburn University majoring in musical theater. At the Springer, she has appeared in “Oklahoma!,” “Annie,” “A Christmas Carol” and “The Member of the Wedding.” At Harris County High she appeared in “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “The Wizard of Oz.” Her Harris County Community Theatre credits include “The Fantasticks” and “The Little Shop of Horrors.”
Maclain Hardin: Has been a Springer Theater Academy student for eight years. She is a Columbus High sophomore, and this is her Springer debut.
Hayley Koger: Has appeared at the Springer in “Madeline and the Gypsies” and “Footloose.” She is a senior at Columbus High where she has appeared in “Hairspray,” “ Enter Laughing,” “All Shook Up ,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and “The Dining Room.” She was named Best Supporting Actress at Region AAA One Act Competition.
Becky Lee Macy: Works in the Springer’s box office and appeared in “Oklahoma!,” “ Footloose” and two productions of “Peter Pan.” She has appeared in “Seussical the Musical” and “The Little Mermaid” in Indianapolis and “A Christmas Carol” and “Pinnochio” with the American Family Theater’s national tour. “The Wizard of Oz” was Becky’s first professional show; she played a Munchkin and Phyllis Diller played the Wicked Witch. She is the dance captain.
Shelly McMoy: Was in the Springer Children’s Theater production of “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” this fall. She is a junior at Central High where she has appeared in “Grease” and “Back to the 80s.” She appeared in “High School Musical” at the Liberty Theatre and in “Seussical the Musical” at South Girard School.
Miranda Runnion: Is a two-year student of the Springer Theater Academy and a sophomore at Northside High where she has appeared in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “How to Eat Like a Child.”
Helen Varner: Almost gave her mother a heart attack when she played Kim McAfee in “Bye Bye Birdie” in high school: In her first musical number she sang, danced -- and changed clothes on stage. She is a graduate of the Auburn University theatre department and was member of the first class of the Springer Theater Academy.
Christi Watson: Recently moved to Columbus. She has performed Off and Off-Off Broadway and toured nationally with Artspower and as a guest vocalist for the Louisiana Delta Ballet.
Brittany Whitehurst: Is a professional face painter. She has appeared in “Angel Street” and “A Taffeta Christmas” for the Family Theatre. She appeared in “Reefer Madness” for the Chattahoochee Shakespeare Company. She is directing a musical version of “Children’s Letters to God” for Summerville United Methodist Church.
Kendra Wiley: Made her stage debut in the Springer production of “The King and I.” She has appeared in “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Nutcracker,” “Les Sylphides and the Ice Skaters” and “Cinderella” for the Columbus Ballet. She has been a student of the Springer Theater Academy for six years.
Donna Wilson: Is making her stage debut. She has been manger of the Springer’s custodial department for nine years.
Brooks Bennett: Has appeared in “Big River,” “ Peter Pan” and “A Christmas Carol.” He’s a sophomore at Northside High where he was in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Brooks is a member of the Northside High Drumline and plays guitar and piano.
Gil Hunter: Has performed in four national tours for Springer Theatricals and in “The Full Monty” and “A Christmas Carol” here. He has performed in “Knight of the Burning Pestle,” “ The World Goes ‘Round,” “A Little Night Music,” “ Othello” and “Big River.”
Brian Jordan: Is a CSU freshman. He appeared in “Little Shop of Horrors,” “All Shook Up” and “Oklahoma!” at Harlem High and “Grease” and “A Christmas Carol” at the Augusta Players.
Damian Lockhart: Appeared in “Sideways Stories at the Wayside School,” “ James and the Giant Peach,” “The Big Friendly Giant” and “Madeline and the Gypsies” for the Springer Children’s Theater. He appeared on the Springer Mainstage in “A Christmas Carol” and “The King and I.” He is a senior at Marion County High and has been a Springer Theater Academy student for seven years.
Joshua Rebuck: Appeared in “A Piece of My Heart” at CSU and “The Rocky Horror Show” and “The Taming of the Shrew” with the Chattahoochee Shakespeare Co. He is a senior at CSU majoring in English and is the editor of the CSU Saber.
Austin Sargent: Appeared in “Bye Bye Birdie,” “ A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Once Upon a Mattress” at Harris County High where he is a senior.
James Turner: Appeared in “Oklahoma!,” “ Footloose,” “Peter Pan” and “Inherit the Wind” at the Springer. He has also been in “Guys and Doll,” “ The King and I,” “The Magic Flute,” “The Music Man,” “Sweet Betsy from Pike” and “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” with the LaGrange Lyric Theatre.
Max Young: Is a sophomore at CSU where he is working on his bachelor’s in theater design and tech and was scenic artist for “The Crucible.”
MUNCHKINS BLUE TEAM
Alyssa Applegate: Is a sixth-grader at Midland Middle School. She’s been a student of the Springer Theater Academy for two years. She appeared in “Ramona Quimby” with the Springer Children’s Theater.
Lewis Ashe: Is a fourth-grader at St. Anne-Pacelli Catholic School. This is his Springer debut.
Judith Borom: Is performing for the first time at the Springer. She attends Brookstone School, where she performed in “Clown Play.” She played the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz” for the Girl Scouts’ Camp Concharty.
Cameron Boutwell: Is a fourth-grader at Sherwood Elementary where he appeared in “Three Little Pigs.” He received the Springer Academy’s Most Focused award this summer.
Sophia Brown: Is a fifth-grader at North Columbus Elementary. She has appeared in “Christmas Hangups” and “Christmas Spelling Bee” at her church.
Josh Cellar: Is making his Springer debut. He is a fourth-grader at New Mountain Hill and has been a part of the Springer Theater Academy for three years.
Nicolas Duncan: Appeared in last season’s “James and the Giant Peach” as James. He appeared in “We’ve Come So Far” at Veterans Memorial School. Nicolas was awarded Most Enthusiastic in the Springer Theater Academy.
Lauren Dunlap: Played a pirate in “How I Became a Pirate” at Hickory Community Theatre (N.C.). She is following in the footsteps of her family: Her great-grandfather Ray Collins, great-grandmother Jane Collins and aunt Erin Collins all work in theater -- often at the Springer.
Ruth Anne Hasty: Is a fifth-grader at Brookstone. She has appeared in three productions of “The Nutcracker” with the Columbus Ballet. She’s been a Springer Theater Academy student for two years.
Janie Johnson: Is a fifth-grader at Britt David Magnet Academy. She has studied at the Springer Theater Academy for two years and is making her Springer stage debut.
Emily Kohl: Is a sixth-grader at Blackmon Road Middle School. She has been a Springer Theater Academy student for two years. She appeared in “Good News Crews” and “Rock Solid” at Gentian Baptist Church, “This Is Christmas” at Eagle Ridge Academy and “Peter Pan” at the Springer.
Sean-Thomas Leak: Is a sixth-grader at Phenix City Intermediate School. This was his first year at the Springer Theater Academy where he was awarded Most Improved Student.
Vivian Lee-Boulton: Has been a Springer Theater Academy student for four years. She is a sixth-grader at Blackmon Road Middle School. Vivian appeared in “The Little Princess” at Rosehill Church.
Jacob Lowe: Is a fourth-grader at Britt David Magnet Academy. Jacob appeared in “Storyland: Behind the Scenes” and “Paradeesya” for Britt David Drama Kids.
Will Mobley: Is a fifth-grader at Double Churches Elementary where he has appeared in “The Most Boring Town in Texas,” “Pirate Ship” and “Behind the Scenes in Storyland.”
Misa McGhee: Is a fourth-grader at Lee County Elementary. She has appeared in “Big the Musical,” “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Schoolhouse Rock” at Lee County High with the Palladium Players.
Bryan Monteith: Is a sixth-grader at Creekside Intermediate School where he has performed in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
Chelsea Orr: Is performing for the first time at the Springer. She is a sixth-grader at Admiral Moorer Middle School. This is her first year studying at the Springer Theater Academy.
Isabelle Powers: Is a fourth-grader at St. Luke School. She has performed as a mouse, sheep and soldier in the Columbus Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” This is Isabelle’s first performance at the Springer.
Nadia Qutob: Is performing at the Springer for the first time. She is a fifth-grader at Creekside School. Nadia has been a Springer Theater Academy student for a year.
Marissa Ross: Performed in “Disney Stories: Behind the Scenes” at the Columbus Museum and “Pirates on the Open Ocean” at Eagle Ridge Academy.
Alexa Seymour: Performed in last season’s “Peter Pan.” Her other credits include “101 Dalmations” and “Willy Wonka” at Clubview Elementary and “The Wizard of Oz” at Hardaway High. She is a fifth-grader at Clubview. Alexa’s first role was at 4-months-old, playing the baby Jesus.
Tori Torsiello: Is a sixth-grader at Creekside Intermediate School and is making her Springer debut. Tori has appeared in “Mulan,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin” with Patty Taylor’s Academy of Fine Arts at RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.
MUNCHKINS RED TEAM
Henry Barnes: Is making his Springer debut. Henry attends Brookstone School where he is in the fourth grade.
Baylee Canington: Is a fifth-grader at Smiths Station Intermediate School. She has appeared in plays at Woodland Baptist Church and is performing for the first time at the Springer.
Patrick Chappel: Is appearing in a Springer show for the first time. He is a fourth-grader at Britt David Magnet Academy. Patrick started at the Springer Theater Academy this summer.
Brynn Duncan: Is a sixth-grader at Blackmon Road Middle School. She is making her Springer debut.
Nick Garcia: Is in the sixth grade at Richards Middle School. He is a Springer Theater Academy student where he was awarded Most Improved Student.
Hadley Gilpatrick: Is a fifth-grader at White Elementary School. She has been a Springer Theater Academy student for two years.
Melissa Jasinski: Is a fifth-grader at St. Anne Pacelli. Melissa has been a Springer Theater Academy student for two years.
Carter Jordan: Performed in “Cheaper by the Dozen” at the Family Theatre. He has studied with the Springer Theater Academy for two years.
Caulin Jordan: Won first place in the Reflections creative writing contest. Caulin appeared in last season’s “Peter Pan.” He is a sixth-grader at Smiths Station Intermediate School.
Claire LeGallais: Is a sixth-grader at Veteran Memorial Middle School where she appeared in “We’ve Come This Far.” She has been a Springer Theater Academy student for two years.
Zoe Lindley: Is a fifth grader at Eagle Ridge Academy. She performed in “Stuart Little” at the Family Theatre. Zoe has been Springer Theater Academy student for five years.
David Lindsey: Is performing for the first time at the Springer. He is in the sixth grade at Creekside School.
Sam Lord: Played Michael in “Peter Pan” at the Springer last season. He has appeared in “Christmas County Spelling Bee,” “Christmas Hang Ups” and “Attitude of “ at Pierce Chapel United Methodist Church. His aunt Karen Lord and sister Meagan are regulars on the Springer stage.
Lizzie Martin: Has been a student of the Springer Theater Academy for four years and has seen a ghost in Foley Hall. She is a fifth-grader at St. Anne Pacelli.
Giana Muntz: Is a fourth-grader at Reese Road Leadership Academy. She is making her Springer debut.
Sophia Pacheco: Is performing in her first Springer production. She is a fourth-grader at Park Elementary School.
Kennedy Polhamus: Has been a Springer Theater Academy student for three years and is making her Springer debut. She is a fourth-grader at Midland Academy where she appeared in “The Magical Sleigh.”
Elyse Sway: Is a fifth-grader at Brookstone School where she performed in “Seussical the Musical.” Her other credits include “The Little Princess,” “Elijah” and “The Nutcracker.”
Seth Welch: Has attended the Springer Theater Academy for six years. Seth appeared in “Peter Pan.” He loves reading and set the school record for Accelerated Reader points earned in a year.
Anna Wiley: Is making her Springer debut. She performed in “The Nutcracker” for two years as a small mouse and a ginger cookie at RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.
Halleigh Woods: Is a fifth-grader at Lakewood Elementary. She has been a Springer Theater Academy student for six years. She is a member of Drama Kids.