No place like home: Student actors find sense of place on Gooseberry stage
Gooseberry Park Players are off to see the wizard this week as the teenage theater company presents a staged version of “The Wizard of Oz”.
The production features 51 kids in the cast, 25 in the crew and 25 in the orchestra pit, with students from 23 regional schools.
“It’s a big show with big number after big number after big number,” says director Lauren Brandenburg.
The troupe tapped into its wealth of quality hoofers to expand dance numbers, including an interpretive take on the twister and a new tap routine.
“Everybody loves a good tap number,” Brandenburg says.
Just as Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion all sought something different from the wizard, members of the cast are all getting something different from their involvement in the musical.
“There’s a video somewhere of me singing the soundtrack as a kid, so finding out I get to play Dorothy is a role of a lifetime . . . You know you can’t one-up Judy Garland, but you want to keep it true to her … Right before I go on, I imagine a happy place in my mind … Finding a home in the cast is special in my final year. I’ve met some of my best friends through this place.”
Audrey Haugen, a Fargo North High School graduate playing Dorothy
“There are so many lessons to be learned on Dorothy’s journey. It’s a good way to learn about yourself. I learned how to talk to people more. It’s a good way to show how to meet friends and build character.”
Caleb Ruziska, Fargo South High junior playing an Emerald City Guard
“It’s got a little bit of everything — comedy, musical numbers, sadness. It’s a good way to broaden your horizons as a performer.”
Liz Wilhelmi, Fargo South High junior playing the Wicked Witch of the West
“It’s really fun playing someone I grew up watching. My friends call me the mom of the group. She’s a strong woman for the time. She worked hard in the field but also at home, being a mother figure to Dorothy.”
Emma Rudolph, Fargo South High junior playing Auntie Em
“I love that we take classics and revise them for a new audience, but still implement current themes and values . . . I don’t know what summer will be like without Gooseberry.”
Alyssa Haagenson, Moorhead High School graduate playing Esmeralda
If you go
What: “The Wizard of Oz”
When: 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 16 through Saturday, July 20; 2 p.m., Sunday, July 21
Where: Hansen Theatre, Roland Dille Center for the Arts, MSUM
Info: Tickets range from $10 - $16, https://mnstatetickets.universitytickets.com , (218) 477-2271