June 30, 2001 – Lions, tigers and bears — oh, my, and many more creatures will take to the stage Thursday through Sunday, July 5-8, as the young actors of the Pistarckle Theater Summer Camp put on "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."
The play is a non-musical version of the classic L. Frank Baum story that was made into the 1939 Judy Garland film "The Wizard of Oz," Pistarckle president Nicola Emerich said.
"When we talked about a show for children, I thought about what would bring out the child in me — and therefore best allow me to share my passion for acting with the children," camp co-director Holli Hornlien said.
Hornlien, a Chicago-based actress who starred in Pistarckle's January production of "The Final Twist," is sharing the direction duties with fellow Chicagoan Julie Ganey.
After three weeks of preparation, the 31 youngsters, ages 8 to15, are psyching themselves up to appear before an audience.
"We all tried out for our different parts," said Erika Nye, her face framed by the shaggy brown mane of the Cowardly Lion costume. Daniella James, playing Toto, jumps in Nye's lap and practices wagging the makeshift white tail sewn onto her black jump suit. "I don't have any lines, but I do have to act a lot," Daniella noted. "I'm always by Dorothy's side.
Katie Ackley's character of Dorothy, in contrast, has had a book-load of lines to learn as the star of the show. "The main thing was not to think of them as lines," Katie said, "but to just follow the flow of the story."
The roles of munchkins, winged monkeys and dancing poppies have gone to many of the younger theater camp participants. Other youngsters are playing key roles behind the scenes. Lubin Davis, for example, is the stage manager and was one of the set painters. "I drew the designs first, then painted them on," he said. The result is a transformation of the Tillett Gardens theater into the Land of Oz itself.
"Theater teaches responsibility, the value of working together as a collaborative effort, and a sense of presence that helps kids later on with speaking in front of people," Emerich said.
There will be four performances of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The first, a "pay as you can" pre-opening, is at 8 p.m. Thursday. The official opening is at 8 p.m. Friday. Matinees are scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $6 for children ages 10 and under. They may be purchased in advance at Polli's Mexican Restaurant and East End Secretarial Services, or at the door. To learn more and to reserve seating, call 775-7877.


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