'The Wiz' blows in during Trollwood's opening night
The sun smiled on the new Trollwood Performing Arts School on Wednesday night. And for good measure, the wind gave it a big old smooch. Cool gusts of winds were the only thing people seemed to complain about at the school's new production of "The...
The sun smiled on the new Trollwood Performing Arts School on Wednesday night.
And for good measure, the wind gave it a big old smooch.
Cool gusts of winds were the only thing people seemed to complain about at the school's new production of "The Wiz." The updated retelling of the classic "The Wizard of Oz" is the first show at the new $13 million Moorhead site.
"It's beautiful," Nicole Schwartz gushed about the new theater. "I just wish it wasn't so windy."
After 30 years at its previous north Fargo location, the school moved across the Red River and south to 50th Avenue South in Moorhead.
Schwartz, the first person in line, and Jessica Vig attended every production over the past few years at the old site, which closed after last year's production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat." On Wednesday they were scoping out a general admission grassy spot to watch from their blanket.
"They do such a good job," Schwartz said, sitting in line.
"It's cool and nice," Vig added.
The new site features four arches that span the stage and support a roof. While rain won't be a problem for those on or near the stage, the winds could be.
The set featured a number of rolling scaffoldings sporting aerial views of suburban neighborhoods. Those canvases flapped in the breeze and mock wind turbines spun before the show opened with remarks and thanks from Vicki Chepulis, Trollwood executive director.
During the pre-show ceremonies, Trollwood alum Prairie Rose read "More than Just a Dream," the poem she wrote and read for the site's ground blessing two years ago. As she read about how winds "whisper from trees," a cool breeze picked up from the west.
At that same event two years ago, Ginny Glaser sang "Home," the final number in "The Wiz." Wednesday night, Glaser again delivered the song in the lead role of Dorothy.
Attendance numbers weren't final as of press time, but box office staffers estimated the crowd to be about 2,000.
Attendance for last year's opening night of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat" was 1,065, up from average openings of 800.
The new site allows for about 2,700 unobstructed views because the lighting towers, which once blocked site lines, are now behind the seating bowl.
That was one of the aspects that excited Becky Maki, another annual theatergoer.
"It's really nice," she said while waiting in line before gates opened around 7 p.m. "It looks great."
"All people need to do is have a nice comfortable seat with no obstructed view, go to the restroom and not wait in line," Chepulis said before gates opened when asked if there was anything she missed about the old north Fargo site.
She added that in June she visited the old site and saw the flood waters had submerged the area where dance stages had been. She then returned to the new home and saw the young students dancing away.
While the new stage area is protected to 40 feet, water still swamped the parking lot during this spring's flooding, delaying some work.
Chepulis pointed out that some sections of concrete were still being poured Wednesday afternoon.
"It's awesome. It's way cooler than it was," said Patrick Mineer, seated toward the top row of benches with his wife, Katherine, and their three children. "This is a fun site. This will be a great place to see a concert."
The first concert, scheduled for Aug. 13, features The Blenders, the former Fargo-based a cappella band that features two former Trollwood alum.
"This is great for Fargo. Our kids will be able to take part in this," Katherine Mineer said, referring to the school's programs.
John Marks, Trollwood's co-founder, said the school serves a role in giving kids something positive to do in the community. He hopes the experience of the kids now involved in the school will be passed on to their kids.
"It makes me so proud to be part of a community that supports the arts," he said.
Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533