L. Frank Baum’s 1900 classic “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is a rich tapestry of places, characters and events spanning across five novels, various films and countless other forms of media. The colorful cast of character has delighted children and adults for over a century. The Bright Star Touring Theater, a company out of Asheville, North Carolina, brought those characters and the Land of Oz to life Monday, July 15, at the Marine Corps Air Station New River Movie Theater. Perhaps most impressively, they did so with only two performers.
The on stage performance was part of MCCS Lejeune-New River Libraries’ Summer Reading Program, a yearly initiative designed to keep kids, and parents, reading during leisure time. The two performers from the touring troupe were Kaci Deakins, a musical theater student at Samford University in Georgia, and Ryan Albinus, a musical theater student at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. The two handled the set, props, acting and, in Albinus’ case, upwards of 10 costume changes.
“When they told us we were doing a two-man “Wizard of Oz” I thought, ‘How’s that going to work?’” Deakins said.
“With our other shows we switch off who has to do all the costume changes,” Albinus said.
The performance was rife with witty pop culture references as well as periods of audience interaction prompting for favorite flowers or knowledge about the story. Some of the musical numbers landed particularly well with adults, as did jokes about possible litigation at the hands of Baum’s estate. Kids were particularly delighted by the prop work, which included breaks for Dorothy’s fateful trip by tornado to Oz and the Wizard himself appearing as a great green floating head. Following the show, Deakins and Albinus took a beat to answer questions from kids in attendance about theater, the show and anything else on their mind.
“This is my first time on base,” Deakins said. “They (the kids) were very interactive but in a way that you could tell they were still interested in the show.”
Deakins also mentioned that her great grandfather had served as a U.S. Marine.
Deakins and Albinus also made sure to let those in attendance know that, if they wanted to hear any more about the Land of Oz, they could speak to their local librarian for a copy.
The next Summer Reading Program kids’ event will be an August 1 movie shown at Tarawa Terrace Community Center. August 1 is also the last day for kids and parents to log their reading time, which qualifies kids for various prizes. The final celebration for the program will be on August 9 for the teen program and August 8 for kids. For more information about the Summer Reading Program visit mccslejeune-newriver.com/libraries.