‘The Wizard of Oz’ opens Friday

“The Wizard of Oz” is one of the most timeless stories ever told on stage or screen, and it will debut at the Martha-Ellen Tye Playhouse at 7:30 p.m. on Friday evening, put on by the Marshalltown Community Theatre (MCT).

Rick Gooding, who has been directing plays for the MCT since 1977, said he chose the piece for this year’s summer musical because it’s a tale so many people know. Around 30 actors will take the stage, with a crew of 50 working behind-the-scenes.

“It involves a lot of children, which is something we continue to do at the theatre — to get kids involved so they become our next generation of actors,” Gooding said.

The character of Dorothy is played by Hadley Wagner, the Scarecrow by Nicholas Copper, the Tin Man by Chad Weir and the Lion by Ken “Hobz” Hooley. Aunt Em is portrayed by Aubrey Does, the Wicked Witch by Amy Van Holland and Glinda the Good Witch by Holly Roseland.

“Being able to play Dorothy has been such a wonderful opportunity,” Wagner said. “I wouldn’t have had this chance without the amazing cast and crew alongside me. I’m glad to have had the honor of playing such an iconic character and I will wear the ruby slippers with pride.”

“It’s my first time performing at the community theatre — I’ve only done theatre stuff with our church, New Hope,” Hooley said. “The Lion has always been my favorite role. He’s the comic relief, and it’s fun to play somebody who is a coward. It’s also a pretty physical part.”

Cooper, who is a veteran of the stage, starred in several community theatre productions and plays at MHS. He will be starting his sophomore year at New York University in the fall, studying drama.

“I feel like it’s a challenge playing someone who isn’t human and taking on the physicality of the scarecrow when I’m walking or talking or dancing,” he said. “It’s been super good for me as someone who’s trying to be in the business and studying musical theatre in college.”

Auditions began in May, with rehearsals starting June 1, which began with learning the musical numbers before working on the lines.

Does putting on a musical have it’s own unique challenges compared to that of other productions?

“Oh definitely. Because people have to learn the music for one thing,” Gooding said. “There’s a lot of scenes, and they follow pretty much the same scenes that are in the movie. There are 13 scene changes in the first act, and 14 scenes in the second act.”

The live theatre experience is different from that of pre-recorded productions, for both the audience watching the play and the actors involved.

“I’ve really grown to love the acting aspect of it — being able to be present in the story, rather than worrying about what’s my next line — really getting to the point in the rehearsal process to be able to live the story on stage, which makes it that much more exciting,” Cooper said.

The show will run around 2-1/2 hours, including an intermission. Refreshments will be available. Tickets cost $20 for adults, $10 for students and kids 12 and under are $5. This play is not on the season ticket.

Other showtimes include: July 21, 27, 28 at 7:30 p.m.; July 22 and 29 at 2 p.m. The box office is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday-Saturday by calling 641-752-4164, and one hour before the start of each show. To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/marshalltowncommunitytheatre

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at

641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com