Follow the yellow brick road to Cottonwood Heights’ ‘The Wizard of Oz’

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Those who follow the yellow brick road just might venture “somewhere over the rainbow” and find themselves in a musical dream.

Friends and families are off to see “The Wizard of Oz,” Aug. 5-13 on Monday, Fridays and Saturdays. The musical, produced by the Cottonwood Heights Art Council, begins at 7 p.m. at Brighton High School.

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Makayla Conner is whirled from Kansas to Munchkinland as Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz" produced by The Cottonwood Heights Art Council.
Although the play differs slightly from the movie, director and BYU alum Becky Henriksen said she aimed to find a close match to the childhood favorite.

“We are staying pretty true to what everyone is familiar with as far as the movie version,” she said. “I don’t think anyone will be disappointed. There isn’t anything that is super different.”

The main plot may remain the same, but there are some added components to enhance the classic treasure.

“We have some tap dancers in one scene and some beautiful principle dancers that we’ve included in several other scenes,” Henriksen said. “That is probably an element I haven’t seen in a lot of other shows. The dancers lift it to another level as snowflakes and statues that come alive in the wizard’s chamber. They add a little more depth and dimension to the show.”

Even the standard skip Dorothy, the tin man, scarecrow and cowardly lion use to travel has been upgraded.

“The choreography isn’t just skipping down the yellow brick road,” said Makayla Conner, who plays Dorothy. “It’s actually more intensive than in the film.”

When recalling childhood interactions with “The Wizard of Oz,” some may remember magical moments while others recollect the frightening flying monkeys that brought nightmares. No matter the memory, parents and children will sleep safely with Cottonwood Heights’ version of the creatures.

“The monkeys in this production are just little kids,” Conner said. “Most of them are munchkins wearing different costumes and the costumes are not scary at all.”

Rod Lewis, former Utah Opera member, said he appreciates the flexibility his role provides as the cowardly lion. This production marks his first show in approximately 10 years.

“It’s such a fun role to play and individuals have a lot of creative license,” he said. “Of course I have my basic script that I go by, but I get to play around a bit with the character, which I like to be able to do.”

Conner said she enjoys her role as Dorothy and the message taught in the “The Wizard of Oz.”

“I think that Dorothy is a very important part in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ because she drives the story with her imagination and she doesn’t give up on finding her way home,” she said. “She learns a very important lesson and teaches the audience that no matter where you are, there is no place like home.”

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