A Slightly Different Road: Oz takes inspiration from original version

TUPELO – When you hear about Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow and all the rest, you know what road you’re going to be walking.
But here’s a detail you might not expect: silver slippers.
Pied Piper Playhouse is presenting “OZ,” which is based on L. Frank Baum’s book, “The Wonderful Wizard of OZ.”
The team behind MGM’s classic movie version took a few liberties with the original story.
“MGM figured red shoes would show up better on screen,” said Dianne Ludt, director of Pied Piper’s production. “In the book, the shoes are silver.”
You’ll still be walking down the Yellow Brick Road in “OZ,” but that road will veer to unfamiliar territory at times.
“They go through the China Country, so we have the tea cups and China bowls and China dolls,” Ludt said. “They go through a forest and the fighting trees.”

Packed cast
All of the standard characters are in Pied Piper’s show. In fact, you might have trouble keeping an accurate count. A flood of young people auditioned for “OZ,” so you’ll see a pair of Glindas, four Tin Woodsmen and no fewer than nine Dorothys.
MacKenzie Graham, 9, and Kaylee Heitger, 9, have been trying to get in touch with their canine selves to play Toto. MacKenzie has her dog, Libby, for inspiration.
“She sniffs a lot,” MacKenzie said.
Kaylee is beginning to get a feel for what dogs go through in the summer.
“My outfit is burning up,” she said, tugging at her collar. “That’s the hard part.”
Audiences also will get two varieties of evil witch. Madison Nanney’s wicked laugh is a bit higher pitched than that of her counterpart, Victoria Wise.
“I think we try to bring our own way to make them unique characters,” said Victoria, 14.
“But there are similarities,” 12-year-old Madison said. “We try to find the best way to be a witch. We try to bring out the worst side of ourselves.”
For most audience members, “OZ” will offer a mixture of old and new, but, really, the Yellow Brick Road is the Yellow Brick Road.
“It’s fun and colorful,” Victoria said. “You’ll get lots of laughs and you’ll hear amazing songs that will be stuck in your head for days.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal