Road to Oz

Ashley Richardson (Dorothy), center, is surrounded by other characters from “The Road to Oz,” played by Holly Chavet, Thomas Graca, Evan Genuise, Jonathan Gerraughty, Spencer Gibson and Katlynn Wilmott.

Submitted photo

Creative Stages Youth Theatre Artistic Director Jim Gradillas’ took a new approach to Frank L. Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” when he wrote a stage adaptation of the story.

“In the last few seasons, so many theaters have been producing ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ so I thought I would try something a little different,” Gradillas said.

“The Road to Oz,” which Gradillas wrote for the youth troupe, kicks off the 2012-2013 season with the further adventures of Dorothy and her friends.

Gradillas said “The Road to Oz” is loosely based on Baum’s fifth novel of the same name. But he took some liberties with the story.

“Many of the main folks are there, but we have some characters from some of his other novels that exist in our version, too,” he said. “I think this will be a great opportunity for everyone to see a fresh take on what we all know.”

The play follows Dorothy, who is back in Kansas as she meets a mysterious character named the Shaggy Man, who she follows.

Upon reaching Oz, Dorothy and her companions are welcomed by Tik-Tok and Billina the Yellow Hen.

Dorothy realizes she’s back on the road to the land of Oz, where she meets her pals the Scarecrow, Jack Pumpkinhead and Tinman along with a new set of villains. They journey to the Emerald City in time for Princess Osma’s birthday.

The youth theater’s production of “The Road to Oz” features a cast of 44 children, ages 7 to 19.

In addition to being the playwright, Gradillas also is the director of the play that features original costumes and sets.

“I’m looking forward to our audiences peeking inside this world like they never have before,” said Gradillas, who recently received several AriZoni nominations for his original works. “It’s the story we all love but with a fresh twist that’s going to be different than any other version of Oz people have seen.”

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