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Dolphin Show Presents 'The Wizard of Oz'

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January 21, 2009 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The 2009 Dolphin Show is a modern re-telling of L. Frank Baum's popular tale "The Wizard of Oz." The family show will be the 67th annual production by Northwestern University students. It is one of the largest student-produced musicals in the nation.

Among the show's updates will be a "Dorothy" who will be fashionably attired in a T-shirt and skirt rather than a gingham dress, and in place of demure ruby slippers, she will wear trendy red high-heels.

Five performances of "The Wizard of Oz" will be held at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23; 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24; 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25; 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30; and 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., on the University's Evanston campus. The show will feature the songs "Over the Rainbow" and "We're Off to See the Wizard," among other classic favorites.

As part of the cast's community outreach, costumed 2009 Dolphin Show cast members will read excerpts from "The Wizard of Oz" to youngsters at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, during "Storytime with Oz" in the children's book section of Barnes & Noble's Evanston store at 1630 Sherman Ave. They also will sing songs from the show. The storytelling event is free and open to the public.

In addition, a Sunday, Jan. 25 matinee performance will feature post-show activities that will include a "meet-and-greet" to allow families and children the opportunity to chat and be photographed with "The Wizard of Oz" student cast members, as well as participate in Oz-related games and trivia.

Written in 1900 by Baum and made into an MGM film in 1939 starring Judy Garland, "The Wizard of Oz" tells the story of Dorothy Gale, a girl from Kansas, who dreams of what lies over the rainbow. When a cyclone strikes her farm and carries her to the Land of Oz, Dorothy must journey to the great and powerful Wizard to find her way home. Along the way, she meets a Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, all of whom join her as she skips down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City.

"The story of 'The Wizard of Oz' is timeless, and we are updating it in a few ways," said student director Katie Spelman, a senior in Northwestern's School of Communication. "The costumes and sets are very different from the MGM film, and the performances are delivered with a vocal honesty that is more in tune to today's world. Instead of having a wide-eyed, Judy-Garlandesque Dorothy, we are telling the story of a girl that could have walked out of a mall in 2009 America. She is going through the things that children today go through -- a need for friendship, and a feeling of being misunderstood."

The message Dolphin Show cast members want to convey to audiences -- no matter how you 'update' the story -- is that friends and family are the things that truly matter in life.

Dorothy, Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, Glinda (the good witch), the Wicked Witch, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion and the other ensemble members will be portrayed by a 20-member cast of Northwestern undergraduate students. They are among a total of 120 students who are involved in this year's Dolphin Show.

The Dolphin Show evolved from a 1940s swim team fundraiser to an annual professional-caliber musical production. It celebrates the diverse talents of Northwestern undergraduate students by providing opportunities for students to learn and excel in all fields of non-profit theatre -- from on stage actors, singers and dancers to behind-the-scenes stage crew members and students who handle publicity and related special events and public outreach programming.

"We are thrilled to bring Oz to life on stage for a whole new generation," said Zachary Baer, the Dolphin Show executive producer and president.

Single tickets to the 2009 Dolphin Show are $25 for the general public; $20 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $10 for students and children. Tickets are available at the Pick-Staiger box office or by calling Pick-Staiger at (847) 467-4000 or online by clicking the "Concerts" followed by the "Non-School of Music Events" icons at http://www.pickstaiger.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the door prior to each performance, subject to ticket availability.

More information on the 2009 Dolphin Show is available online at http://www.nudolphinshow.org.