By Jamie Reese
There was no place like Fine Arts this weekend as the East Stroudsburg University Theatre Department presented “The Wizard of Oz” from April 24 to April 27.
“I thought it was fantastic,” said Eric Baum, a sophomore computer science major at ESU. “I loved it because the actors were so convincing. Specifically, the Wicked Witch did really well, and the Tin Man’s movements were always robotic.”
Dr. Margaret Ball, Director of the production, led a team of students and professionals who worked together to put on the show.
“I felt like all the details and prop usage — and even the dog that they had play as Toto — was all really thought out,” said Baum.
Such details included the intricate use of lights to create the yellow brick road whenever it was needed. During the munchkin scene, the actors danced onstage on their knees with their legs hidden.
All of those details were the result of an effort put forth by more than just the performers and production team. The show stirred up a whirlwind of community and alumni support.
“It has been wonderful connecting to the community with this production. The students would go down to Crystal Street to hand out flyers and sing a few tunes from the show,” said Ball.
Students worked with Yoshinori Tanokura, Set and Costume Designer, to create a window display at Liztech Jewelry on Crystal Street to promote the production. Students also worked with Tanokura to make costumes.
“The costumes were very well done,” said Robert DiDomenico, a sophomore philosophy major.
And Dorothy’s shoes weren’t all that sparkled at the production.
Liztech sold hand-made pins from their “Wizard of Oz” Collection, and donated 50 percent of the purchases to the theatre department.
Karen Guilliams, ESU Alumna, helped to sell the LizTech Pins in the lobby during the performances.
Liztech, Dansbury Diner, and Trackside Station also allowed the department to circulate coupons that gave the user the ability to donate 10 percent of his or her purchase to ESU Theatre.
“We won’t know how much we raised until next week, but it has been very successful,” said Ball.
For all the community gave, the performers gave back.
Scarecrow Michael Lloret and Katie Reardon, one of the double-cast Dorothy Gales, performed at The Sixth Annual Scholarship Luncheon held on Sunday. The luncheon aimed the spotlight on scholarship recipients and donors across the university as a whole and celebrated their hard work and generosity.
“It was good to both entertain the donors, and also to show them part of what they support when they support the university and its students,” said senior Verones Padilla who attended the luncheon.
Dramaturg Hunter Fogel — the research liaison for the production — educated the public on the “social, political, physical, cultural, and economic contexts in which the play resides.”
“My favorite aspect of the production — and post-production, I suppose — has been realizing the impact my research has had on the production and individuals,” said Fogel.
These two instances of reciprocal service prove that acts of kindness are not always one-sided.
When the community, alumni, and university support theatre, they support students who will someday feed back into a larger pool of support — because when people work together for a cause as large as this, lifelong friendships are inevitable — and it all starts to show around graduation.
“The seniors were phenomenal. Kelsey Pulzone, the stage manager, is so incredibly talented and was able to pull the show together so easily,” said Gabrielle Gombos, a member of the ensemble.
Gombos continued, “Mary Dennis is so optimistic. She always made me smile, and it was a delight to work with someone who truly loved to perform. Brandon made such amazing choices with his movements as the Tin Man.”
Ball was also impressed with the seniors’ performances.
“It was good to hear Joey Dougherty get to sing and act in this production — he has a beautiful voice,” said Ball.
Ball continued, “Another senior who we couldn’t have done this without is Chris Walters — he helped hang and focus all our lights — a huge job!”
According to Ball, Walters proposed to his girlfriend on Saturday in front of the entire cast and crew.
“This was the perfect show to say good-bye to our seniors. ESU is sending a talented bunch out into the world,” said Ball.
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