News Release

Cast announced for 'The Wizard of Oz'; tickets on sale

Contact: Christina Chapple


     HAMMOND – Tickets are now on sale for “The Wizard of Oz,” the latest show in the perennially popular series of summer musicals staged by Southeastern Louisiana University’s Opera/Music Theatre Program.

     Three performances of “The Wizard of Oz” are scheduled for June 22, 7:30 p.m., and June 23, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., at Southeastern’s historic Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts, in downtown Hammond.

     Tickets are available at the Columbia box office, 220 E. Thomas St., (985) 543-4371, from noon-5 p.m. on weekdays. Ticket prices for adults are $24, Orchestra 1/Loge; $21, Orchestra 2; $18, Orchestra 3/Balcony 1; $15, Balcony 2.

     Ticket prices for senior citizens, 60 and older, and children, 12 and younger, are $22.50, Orchestra 1/Loge; $19, Orchestra 2; $16, Orchestra 3/Balcony 1; $13.50, Balcony 2.

     Southeastern students will be admitted free to Balcony 2 seating with their university I.D.

     “The stage version of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was created just a few years after the movie was released in 1939 and has been delighting children of all ages ever since,” said Opera/Music Theatre Program Director Chuck Effler.

     “Other summer shows that Southeastern has produced – ‘The Music Man,’ ‘Oliver!’, and ‘Annie’ -- were great hits with audiences, and garnered comments such as ‘as good as Broadway’ and ‘more, more MORE!’,” Effler said. “Please join the cast, crew and orchestra for another wonderful evening of live musical theater.”

     Effler said rehearsals for “The Wizard of Oz” are now underway. The cast, he said, features “lots of kids, high school kids and community adults and Southeastern students.”

     Fifteen-year-old Meghan Wagner of Hammond has been cast in the lead role of Dorothy. Homeschooled, Wagner is a voice student in Southeastern’s Community Music School and is also enrolled in the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) Music Theater program. She has appeared in a number of musical productions with the Jefferson Performing Arts Society, Missoula Children’s Theatre and Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre.

     Dorothy’s sidekicks on her journey to the Emerald City will be played by a trio of Southeastern students – Simon Pfeil of Hammond, Scarecrow; Skyler Stroup of Mandeville, Tinman; and Scott McDonough of Slidell, Cowardly Lion.

     Betty Turner of Hammond will portray the Sorceress of the North (the “Good Witch”), while Ellen Sweetman of Hammond has the role of the “Sorceress of the West (the “Wicked Witch”). Turner, a recent Southeastern graduate, appeared in numerous university productions. Sweetman has appeared in past Southeastern musicals such as “The Music Man.”

     Pete Pfeil, the Columbia Theatre’s associate director for operations and production, will step from behind the scenes to play “the Wizard.” Pfeil has approximately three decades of experience in theater production at Southeastern, the Beverly Dinner Playhouse and Orpheum Theatre in New Orleans, and Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre. Pfeil’s wife Anna will also join the cast as Aunt Em.

     “The Wizard of Oz” cast also includes Southeastern student Margaret Davis of Walker as Gloria, and Springfield resident Emile Scamardo as Uncle Henry.

     Southeastern students and area residents in the cast include April Field, Amite; Joshua Glober and Joshua Ikegulu, Baton Rouge; Cara Williams, Franklinton; Jane Rownd, Hammond; Eryn Minor LeBlanc, Luling; Nathan A. Constant, Meraux; Elyse German, Pearl River; Danielle Willie, Ponchatoula; Erin Perdue, Prairieville; Brandon Wear, Slidell; Shannon Pinkley, Tickfaw; and Sarah Deweese, Zachary.

     Area children in the cast are, from Hammond, Jasmine Elena Barnes, Madison Bentivegna, Laura Crother, Ruth Ann (“Rudi”) Darouse, Megan Davis, Rachel Greer, Reagan Greer, Callie Hines, Erin Holloway, Rachael Knaps, Samantha Messina; from Ponchatoula, Bethany Daines, Bethany Herrick and Shalako Sharp.

     Also, Morgan Arledge, St. Amant; Chase Bernard, Walker; Kara Broussard, Livingston; Kaylee Crosby, Tickfaw; Giovanna Dufrene, Independence; and Kayla Pittman, Bogalusa.

     High school students cast are, from Hammond: Kelly Bernard, Joshua Bobb-Semple, Julean M. Coleman, Caleb Courtney, Joshua Courtney, Charles-Robert Miller, Aaron Pfeil, Maggie Rownd, Annie Scardulla, Samantha Spalitta and Rebecca Wagner; from Ponchatoula: Gabrielle Acosta, Christopher Ekker, Chelsea Herrick, Sarah Rehm, and Alexandra Sharp; from Covington: Stephanie Boyd and Katherine Leigh Miller; and from Madisonville, Erin Cessna.

     “The Wizard of Oz” is made possible through the major financial support of Southeastern’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts; and Opera/Music Theatre Workshop. Funding has also been provided from the Louisiana State Arts Council and the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge through the Decentralized Arts Funding Program.

     Additional financial support comes from the Hammond and Amite Wal-Mart stores and Wal-Mart Logistics in Robert, North Oaks Health System, Tangipahoa Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau, Guaranty Savings Bank, Fay and Phelan Bright, and Encore Development Corporation (Ed and Peggy Hoover).

     For more information, contact Effler at 985-549-2249, or SLU 10815, Hammond, LA 70402.

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