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Oz channels steampunk

Spotlight Youth Theatre puts modern spin on classic

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Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 11:07 am

Lori Vander-Maten knew one day that she would be involved in a stage version of the MGM classic film “The Wizard of Oz.”

“I’ve had a love affair with ‘The Wizard of Oz’ since I was a kid and we would watch it on television when it was on once a year,” said Vander-Maten. “My mother’s name is Dorothy, and she had an uncanny resemblance to Judy Garland.”

Vander-Maten directs “The Wizard of Oz,” which opens Spotlight Youth Theatre’s new season Friday in Glendale.

“I’m very excited about this show, and I love the meaning of the message about home,” Vander-Maten said.

This production is based on the Garland film but includes some original numbers such as “The Jitterbug,” which was cut from the movie.

“The Wizard of Oz” follows Dorothy Gale from Kansas as she meets new friends and enemies in the land of Oz as she finds her way back home.

Popular songs include “Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is Dead,” “If I Only Had a Brain” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Spotlight’s production will feature examples of steampunk, a genre originated in the 1980s and 1990s that features fantasy and science fiction blended with elements from the Victorian era.

“I never heard of steampunk until our design team talked about it, so I thought it would be a fun a way to interpret Oz, but we don’t go overboard,” Vander-Maten said.

An example of the steampunk style would be the other hit Broadway musical based on Oz, “Wicked,” according to Vander Maten.

“The Wizard of Oz” features a cast of 40 ages 8 to 18, including its 12-year-old star, Camden Wawro, who portrays Dorothy.

“I love theater and always adored the movie, but I never dreamed that I would be Dorothy,” said Camden, a seventh-grader at Copperwood Elementary School.

Camden also loves the message of the “The Wizard of Oz” as well.

“No matter where you go, the best place in the world is always home, whether it’s the physical place or your family and friends,” she said.

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