North Central College - Naperville, IL

North Central College presents “The Wizard of Oz”

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Alex Oechsel, center, as Dorothy
Alex Oechsel, center, as Dorothy

North Central College’s Summer Musical Theatre presents one of the greatest family musicals of all time, “The Wizard of Oz,” June 29-30 and July 1, 6-8, featuring some 120 actors from the community.

Six performances will be staged at 7:30 p.m. June 29, 30, July 6 and 7 and two Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. July 1 and 8 in North Central’s Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville. Two shows will be interpreted in sign for the hearing impaired: the 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, July 1, and the 7:30 p.m. show Saturday, July 7. Tickets are $15/adults and $10/students and senior citizens; call the North Central College Box Office at 630-637-SHOW (7469) or visit

North Central’s Susan Craig-Olsen, lecturer of theatre, will direct the production and Mac Willaert will provide musical direction.

This magical production—the Royal Shakespeare Company version based on the 1939 MGM movie—presents the story of Dorothy, her dog Toto and their friends the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow. They are transported “Over the Rainbow” to adventures in Munchkin Land, the Hunted Forest and Emerald City. The entire family will enjoy the journey down the yellow brick road and hearing the classic songs “Over the Rainbow,” “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” and “If I Only Had a Brain.”

“Everyone loves ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ not only because of the fanciful story,” says Craig-Olsen, “but because of the friendship that grows between Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man. And everyone adores Dorothy because she is a typical young teen, who is brave and honest and loves so earnestly. The caliber of actors this year is huge with lots of familiar faces and some newcomers. Come revisit this classic tale and we’ll have some surprises in it for you as well.”

The film “The Wizard of Oz” won three Academy Awards in 1939 for Best Original Score by Herbert Stothart, Best Original Song “Over the Rainbow” by Harold Arlen for music and E.Y. Harburg for lyrics, and Special Award by Judy Garland, who starred as Dorothy.  

The cast of principal roles for “The Wizard of Oz” includes (part: name, hometown):
An additional 106 performers are part of the cast and chorus; some principal roles are double cast.

Dorothy: Melanie Frewen of Downers Grove
Dorothy: Alex Oechsel of Naperville
Wicked Witch/Gultch: Jennifer Prerost of Naperville
Wicked Witch/Gultch: Patti Shore Kaden of Naperville
Glinda: Heidi Buyck of Woodridge
Wizard/professor: Cody Bergmann of Montgomery
Aunt Em: Maggie Detwiler ofWarrenville
Uncle Henry: Tom Paulsen of Wheaton
Lion/Zeke: Chris Oechsel Sr. of Naperville
Scarecrow/Hunk: Chris Oechsel Jr. of Naperville
Tin Man/Hickory: Stuart Vance of Naperville
City Guard: Derek Rippe of Naperville
Winkie General: Dennis Ortman
Nikko: Mark Yacullo of Naperville

“The Wizard of Oz” is the first of three musicals this summer at North Central College. “Princess Ida,” directed by Matt Boresi, will be staged July 10-15, and “South Pacific,” directed by Brian Lynch, will run July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5.

This summer production is one of many ongoing programs hosted at North Central College to enrich and broaden the academic and cultural outlook for the College and community. For a comprehensive schedule of North Central’s new 2012-2013 Fine & Performing Arts Season, art exhibits and other musical and theatrical productions, visit or call the box office at 630-637-SHOW (7469).

Photo: Back, from left: Greta Thorne, Grace Kleckler, Alex Oechsel, Taylor Oechsel, Isabella Newhuis. Front, from left: Doris Olsen, Greta Garber