You can find family fun at Cresson Lake Playhouse just by following the yellow brick road.
The Loretto-based community theater company will tell the classic story of "The Wizard of Oz," with their own twist, beginning at 8 p.m. July 28.
Executive Director Elaine Mastalski said with the amount of planning that went into costumes, sets and props, this will be "the most elaborate show of the summer."
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Allyssa Baker sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as Dorothy in Cresson Lake Playhouse’s “The Wizard of Oz.”
"We've worked hard to plan and do a good show for everyone," she said.
Production staff for the show met as early as September to begin discussing their direction, Mastalski said. They ultimately decided to stay true to the movie version of "The Wizard of Oz" in the look of the production, but added in certain scenes and musical numbers found in the script for the live play.
Marina Johnson, director for "The Wizard of Oz," said she thinks the audience will enjoy seeing their favorite characters from the movie "come to life on stage."
If you go
What: "The Wizard of Oz," presented by Cresson Lake Playhouse
When: 8 p.m. July 28-31 and Aug. 2-7 and 9-13. Matinee performances will be held at 2 p.m. July 31 and Aug 7
Where: Cresson Lake Playhouse, 279 Shapiro Road, Loretto
Tickets: $17 for adults and $10 for children, reserve by calling 472-4333
"The ruby slippers shine very brightly under our lights," she said.
Johnson, 21, of Johnstown, said with the way Cresson Lake Playhouse is laid out, there will be little space between actors and the audience. This will open a door for audience-character interaction throughout the performance.
"We have these characters who you really want to interact with, and you can finally do that," she said.
What will make the characters believable in this production is the detailed costuming that has taken 10 months to plan and create or borrow.
Julie Piotti, head costumer, said she was able to borrow many costumes for the production from other companies, like Altoona Community Theatre and Penn State Altoona. However, she made costumes for both Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch from scratch.
Piotti said getting into character has a lot to do with the costumes for the actors. And if Dorothy or the Lion didn't look like their quintessential counterparts, she added, it may be a let-down to some audience members.
"Really, that's what the children that come to the play expect," Piotti said.
Steve Sloan, who plays the Scarecrow, said his costume looks "just like the movie," and he can't wait to wear it.
"There's [hay] sticking out from me everywhere," he said. "It's fun to play with."
Sloan, 16 of Altoona, said it's been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. He added that he and the fictional character are somewhat alike.
"I often have my moments when I don't have a brain," he said.
Allyssa Baker, 23, of Altoona who plays Dorothy, said rehearsing for the performances has been fun, but she's afraid her nerves will hit her when opening night comes.
"I don't really think it's hit me yet," she said about playing such an iconic character.
She said she hasn't yet seen many of the costumes, but she knows that everything from the trees to the flying monkeys will be very well done.
"Everything they're putting together sounds really cool and top of the line," she said.
Baker said people should come see a performance because there are a lot of tricks and special effects that will "blow the mind of the audience."
"There will be a lot of surprises that you wouldn't think a smaller theater like Cresson Lake Playhouse could make happen," she said.
Sloan said the show will be both classic and riddled with new things for the audience to see. The intimacy of the space is also one of Sloan's favorite aspects to performing there, he added.
"You can see everyone's faces and how excited they are to be seeing it," he said.
Mastalski said the production will be a hit for every generation.
"Live theater is the best introduction to this type of show because they can really grasp who these characters are," she said.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.