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Cast of Oz “Over the Rainbow” about opening night at RLC

The cast and crew of Rend Lake College are inviting the community to travel with them down the Yellow Brick Road next month during the 2017 Spring Musical “The Wizard of Oz.” Tickets are on sale now with opening night set for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 6, in the RLC Theatre.

WizOfOzCastPhotoFB
Pictured are members of “The Wizard of Oz” cast and crew.
Click on the image for a larger view.
(ReAnne Palmer / RLC Public Information)

The 2017 Spring Musical is an adaptation of the 1939 drama film of the same name produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which is itself based on the 1900 novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum. The plot is based on a young girl named Dorothy who travels from her Kansas farm to the Land of Oz, meeting unique and colorful characters along the way.

Portraying the most notable character – Dorothy Gale – will be theatre-veteran Olivia Bailey of Mt. Vernon. Bailey, a vocal performance major at RLC, is no stranger to musicals either, having played Anna Maria in last year’s “Godspell” and Fantine in 2015’s “Les Misérables.” She said her role this year presents something uniquely challenging compared to her prior roles.

“Dorothy is such a well-known character and I believe people will have high expectations, not only for her, but for any main character in this musical,” said Bailey. “I’m hoping to meet those expectations while also adding my own spin on the character. I also love dogs, so I’m extremely excited to be able to hold our Toto throughout this show.”

After working hard to be prepared for auditions and landing her dream role, Bailey said she’s enjoying her time getting ready for opening night, especially with the younger actors on stage.

“I have loved watching all of our munchkins learn their songs and dances. They are so cute and so talented,” said Bailey. “I’m most looking forward to the day when the whole show comes together. We have such a talented and creative cast and crew. Everyone is working hard and I know all of the hard work we are putting in is going to make a great show.”

Joining Bailey on her quest to find Oz will be Dahlgren’s Yuting Zhang as Hickory the Tinman. Originally from China, Zhang found his love for theatre and performing several years ago in Southern Illinois and has since appeared in numerous shows, both at RLC and the surrounding area.

The music performance major has performed at RLC as Tally in last year’s musical “Godspell,” the Bishop in 2015’s musical “Les Misérables,” a blind beggar in 2014’s play “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Mr. Mushnik in 2014’s musical “Little Shop of Horrors,” Cheng I Sao in 2013’s play “Treasure Island,” and a cave man and fairy god mother in the annual shows of “Flummoxed Fairy Tales.”

This time around, Zhang said he’s not only looking forward to acting, but also dabbling in dance and choreography.

“I am most excited about choreographing my own tap dance with the help of my fellow cast mate Bryce Wiley [of West Frankfort], who is playing the Scarecrow,” said Zhang. “So far, my favorite part has been working with so many talented people and getting to know them, and making new friends.”

By his side is another friendly face in Benton’s Emeri Farnam. Racking up more than a dozen performances in musicals across Southern Illinois, Farnam will portray Glinda and Good Witch in next month’s show at RLC. The sophomore music education major said she’s already enjoying a task she’s never faced: representing a noble character on stage.

“I am most excited about getting to be an elegant and regal character, which is something I’ve never played before. Glinda is such a challenge in that aspect, but such a joy to represent,” said Farnam. “I actually went into the audition hoping for Dorothy, but now I’m glad that I was cast as Glinda. I get to work with the kids in the show frequently, and I’m challenged to be a character that’s drastically different from any I’ve ever played.”

Though she’s been on stage several times before, “The Wizard of Oz” will be Farnam’s first appearance on the RLC stage. Joining dozens of others in rehearsals, she said the best part has been working with the other talented actors.

“I am loving being a part of this show. The director and stage managers are fantastic at what they do, and I really believe this show will become one to remember,” said Farnam. “My favorite part so far has just been making new friendships with people who love performing just as much as I do. I am most looking forward to wearing a lot of glitter.”

She continued, “If you love the classic ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ you’ll love this version as well. Because this is the movie version, you’ll get to relive the way you felt the first time you watched the movie. This script will make your heart swell just as the movie did, and to be able to feel that same way you once felt or still do feel about the movie is magical. This show is full of amazing talent, and every second is sure to be filled with excitement.”

Bailey echoed Farnam’s sentiments, saying, “This is such a fun show. It’s amazing to see such a classic story move from the big screen to the stage. There is so much talent on stage and behind the scenes for this show. Join us as we travel ‘over the rainbow’ and show you the magic of Oz.”

“It is a classic, it is family-friendly, and it is fun. It’s perfect for a family event,” added Zhang.

In addition to Bailey, Farnam and Zhang, there are 43 actors cast in RLC’s “The Wizard of Oz.”

  • Sarah Adcock (McLeansboro / Optimistic Voices, Tree, Ozian, Snow Fairy)
  • Taylor Aldridge (Eldorado / Girls Chorus, Tree, Ozian, Snow Fairy)
  • Kaitlyn Bennett (Ewing / Munchkin, Poppy, Monkey)
  • Emma Bowen (Bonnie / Munchkin, Poppy, Monkey)
  • Johanna Bowen (Bonnie / Munchkin, Poppy, Monkey)
  • Gabby Ellet (Vergennes / Munchkin, Poppy, Monkey)
  • Aidan Ezell (Mt. Vernon / Uncle Henry Gale, Emerald City Guard)
  • Connor Fauset (Benton / Winkie)
  • Claire Gulley (Sesser / Munchkin, Poppy, Monkey)
  • Kylee Halbin (Mt. Vernon / Tot, Poppy, Jitterbug)
  • Grant Hall (Holland, OH / Ozian, Winkie)
  • Carter Hertenstein (Mt. Vernon / Coroner, Monkey)
  • Jonelle Jones (Sesser / City Father, Monkey)
  • Alexandria Kubiak (Ashley / Optimistic Voice, Ozian, Snow Fairy, Tree)
  • Emerie Latta (Sesser / Tot, Poppy, Jitterbug)
  • Melina Launay (Mt. Vernon / Miss Almira Gultch, the Wicked Witch of the West, Optimistic Voice)
  • Stephanie Layne (Murphysboro / Optimistic Voice, Tree, Snow Fairy, Ozian)
  • Cordelia Lemons (Sesser / Tough Kid, Poppy, Monkey)
  • Nealia Lewis (Scheller / Tree, Snow Fairy, Ozian)
  • Sophia Lewis (Valier / Teacher, Monkey)
  • Illyana Lipe (Elkville / Optimistic Voice, Tree, Ozian)
  • Matthew Loucks (Sesser / Zeke, Cowardly Lion, Winkie)
  • Jamie Morgan (Mt. Vernon / Aunt Emile Gale)
  • Amelia Morris (Benton / Tough Kid, Poppy, Jitterbug)
  • Zoie Nitz (Sesser / Fiddler, Monkey)
  • Karmen Parks (Bluford / Tree, Snow Fairy, Winkie, Ozian)
  • Benjamin Payne (Bonnie / Professor Chester Marvel, The Wizard of Oz)
  • Emma Peper (Walnut Hill / Tree, Snow Fairy, Ozian, Winkie)
  • Lily Rains (Mt. Vernon / Tot, Poppy, Jitterbug)
  • Lucy Rains (Mt. Vernon / Ozian, Tree, Poppy, Jitterbug)
  • Riley Rodgers (Wayne City / Munchkin Mayor, Monkey)
  • Maggie Sanders (Pinckneyville / Tree, Snow Fairy, Ozian)
  • Seyah Schernekau (Mt. Vernon / City Father, Poppy, Jitterbug)
  • Cade Shadowens (Sesser / Munchkin Braggart, Monkey)
  • MaKenna Smith (Mt. Vernon / Munchkin, Monkey)
  • Sam Smith (Mt. Vernon / Crow, Ozian, Winkie)
  • Maggie Stacey (Sesser / Barrister, Poppy, Jitterbug)
  • Addyson VanDyke (Mt. Vernon / Munchkin, Poppy, Jitterbug)
  • Falyn VanDyke (Mt. Vernon / Tree, Snow Fairy, Ozian)
  • Dereke Waithe (Mt. Vernon / Crow, Ozian, Winkie General)
  • Josie Webb (Ewing / Tough Kid, Nikko)
  • Bryce Wiley (West Frankfort / Hunk, Scarecrow, Winkie)
  • Maura White (Sesser / Teacher, Poppy, Jitterbug)

“The Wizard of Oz” will be on the RLC Theatre stage at 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, April 6 – 8 and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 9. Tickets are on sale for $12 each. They can be purchased by calling the RLC Box Office at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1467. Some tickets may also be available at the door on show night, if not sold out.