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Corbett Children's Theater presents 'Ever After Oz'

Written by Vancouver playwright Kurt Shinn, the play offers a new take on a classic series


by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: LISA K. ANDERSON - The play features 50 young actors, ages 5-19. Back left to right are Brooke McDonald, Jacob Wolff, Tim Clark and Erin Duhon. Bottom left to right are Daniel Johnson, Ethan Thompson, Alex Hugo and Ania Vilius.

For many of us, watching "The Wizard of Oz" marked a memorable moment in our childhood.

But how many of us know of Oz' other magical kingdoms and characters?

Corbett Children's Theater will premiere its spinoff of L. Frank Baum's classic series at 7 p.m. tomorrow. Performances run through Saturday night, June 7.

"Ever After Oz" draws from Baum's stories, with new twists from Vancouver playwright Kurt Shinn.

"This is a show about community and how community doesn't come from the outside, it comes from within," said Shinn. "It's all about how we value ourselves and others."

A friend of director Angel Williams, Shinn wrote the play for Corbett Children's Theater after discussing Williams' favorite "Oz" scene in which Princess Langwidere changes her heads.

In Shinn's story, Dorothy returns to Kansas as an honorary member of Oz' royal court.

She's confident she can fix anything, until she finds herself in an unfamiliar and slightly twisted fairyland with only her family's last hen.

Desperately trying to find her way back to Oz and the people she loves, Dorothy meets Billina, Tik Tok and Sminker. She finds friendship in the midst of chaos.

"Nothing good happens without help," Williams said. "With help, magic happens."

Williams said "Ever After Oz" has marked her most difficult and rewarding directing experience in her 20 years with CCT, and the first production the theater has workshopped.

CCT has brought on brand-new actors, a filming crew and junior make-up designers for this show, featuring students ages 5-19.

Rising Corbett High School senior Katie Riley plays Ozma, the child queen of Oz who watches over all of her citizens. Riley said it was refreshing CCT could collaborate on the script with Shinn to change certain aspects.

"I was psyched about this play from the moment I heard about it," Riley said. "(The story) is not just the movie so many people have seen. There are still the classic characters — the Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, for example — but it's fun to see the other characters, stories and magical provinces."

Riley said she hopes audience members soak up the play's message of not letting pride get in their way and not being afraid to ask for help.

Erin Duhon, an incoming freshman at Estacada Web Academy, sang with the ensemble in CCT's, "Sound of Music" last fall, her first production.

Little did she know she would star as Dorothy in her second production. "It's very exciting and different," Duhon said. "My favorite part is the people and the characters in this particular play."

Sam Cerbu, a junior at Corbett High School, plays Tik Tok, a mechanical man built as the royal body guard of the Family of Ev.

Cerbu said his character harbors a sense of failure after failing to protect the king and his family. He follows Dorothy along as best he can.

"Kurt (the playwright) really helped with character development and how to best portray our characters," Cerbu said.

Barlow High junior Spencer Townsend plays Dorothy's Uncle Henry, who comes to Oz feeling happier and less pressured than he did in Kansas — free of the Dust Bowl and Depression.

Townsend said there was some good and bad in each location, and that he liked how the theater worked with Shinn to fine tune the play for its world premiere.

Among the filming crew members is Riley Hopper, an incoming junior who will study at Mt. Hood Community College this fall.

Along with filming a trailer and interviews with cast members, Hopper and other crew members are creating a documentary about the production that will be available for purchase on CD.

Hopper said the experience has inspired him to take theater classes at MHCC and expand his skills with CCT the next couple years.

Just as the cast and crew have brought together their various talents, Shinn hopes audience members take away a message of collaboration from "Ever After Oz."

"I would love to have people walk away saying, 'I see value in this other person who has this skill that I may not have particular use for, but that our society doesn't go on without,'" Shinn said.

IF YOU GO

Who: Corbett Children's Theater

What: "Ever After Oz," based on the classic "Oz" series by L. Frank Baum, the brand-new stage show was written by Vancouver playwright Kurt Shinn for the Corbett Children's Theater production

When: 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, June 5-7, with a matinèe at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 7

Where: The Chapel in Troutdale, 27132 S.E. Stark St.

Tickets: $9 for students and seniors and $12 for adults

Info: To make reservations, visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/706219




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