Homegrown munchkins: Local children dance in 'Oz' touring show

Thursday, January 28, 2010
The citizens of Munchkinland sing around Dorothy Gale and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North during a touring performance of "The Wizard of Oz" on Wednesday in the Bedell Performance Hall on the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University. (LAURA SIMON)

More munchkins sat in the crowd than onstage at the family classic "The Wizard of Oz" Wednesday night at the River Campus.

Some people came because they had season tickets, but others, like Maggie Lawson and her mother Courtney who bought their tickets in November, were there for the story.

"She loves The Wizard of Oz," Courtney said. "We got her the movie when she was 2."

Maggie, now 5, was there looking for the Tin Man because "he has a hat and is funny," she said. She wore her blue, checked dress and sparkly ruby ballet slippers for the occasion.

"We're on our third pair of red shoes," Courtney said. Maggie dressed as Dorothy for her Wizard of Oz-themed birthday party in December and at Halloween, when her little brother was dressed as the Cowardly Lion.

Several young girls were dressed as Dorothy with pigtails, stuffed Totos and, of course, ruby slippers.

Several other girls were onstage dressed as the Lollipop Guild and other munchkins. The touring show enlisted 12 dancers, ages 8 to 13, from The Academy of Dance Arts to perform during the welcome to Munchkinland scene.

The local talent excited Adelaide Parsons and her companions. Parsons said she knows several of the girls from church or other community activities.

"We just think it's wonderful that the River Campus is bringing these children in to give them the opportunity to dance with professional actors," Parsons said.

Local dancers also perform yearly in the Moscow Ballet's performance of "The Great Russian Nutcracker."

Parsons also said she has liked the story since she was a young girl.

"I always liked the lion," she said. "We all have moments in life where we lacked courage and faith [and] we need someone to believe in us."

"The Wizard of Oz" sold out more than two weeks ago and, by showtime Wednesday, the theater had a waiting list of more than 100 names hoping a canceled reservation or no-show would open up a seat.

Local children who participated in the production were Jenny Duncan, Mia Gates, Madalyn Henderson, Lily Parker, Sydney King, Sloane Johnson, Lindsay Parker, Caitlyn Dumey, Alexis Yancey, Madeleine Arnzen, Maya Kelch and Caroline Rollins.

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