by TaLeiza Calloway – firstname.lastname@example.org
As flying monkeys practiced Tuesday (March 18) at the Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud, Br. Paul-Vincent Niebauer, OSB, gave directions about a cue for an upcoming performance of “The Wizard of Oz.” St. John’s Preparatory School is producing the musical, which opens this weekend. Shows are slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 22-23; and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 24.
Niebauer, of St. John’s Abbey, has directed about 50 shows but is directing this particular musical for the first time. He said the audience will be pleased. A 50-member cast will perform the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Royal Shakespeare version of the classic. There will be many scenes of familiarity with a few tweaks to some lines. The role of Dorothy is played by Zoe Novak, of St. Joseph, a senior at St. John’s Prep.
“It’s a fabulous show,” Niebauer said. “You’ll notice we stuck pretty close to the script and certainly the music, but there will be some sassy surprises.”
Dixie Boschee, an English teacher at St. John’s Prep, is the producer of the show. The school has been producing musicals at the Paramount Theatre for many years and 2013 marks the 10th one. It started at the suggestion of a Prep student and grew from there. The school is the only school to produce musicals at the Paramount, she said. The first production was the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
“It’s a really big production,” Boschee said. “We’ve got quite a lot of students involved.”
The musical includes a cast of 50, 17 people working in the orchestra pit and an additional 15 backstage. Sarah Bresnahan, a resident of the St. Joseph area, choreographed the musical. She is a senior at St. John’s Prep. Special effects include flying witches, monkeys and a hot-air balloon. A real dog will play Toto. Magical set illusions will enhance the experience.
The show time is under two hours and will offer something for everyone. Saturday’s performance is dedicated to Al Leighton of Leighton Broadcasting since he is the one who persuaded Niebauer to move shows to the Paramount years ago. Leighton died last spring but his vision has become a tradition.
“It’s a delightful retelling of the story,” Niebauer said. “Even though it’s (considered) a ‘children’s’ story, it really isn’t. We’re all young at heart, I hope.”
The Paramount Theatre is at 913 W. St. Germain St. in St. Cloud. Ticket information is available at paramountarts.org.