Stepping Out

PYT premieres modern-day ‘Oz’ Friday

Peninsula Youth Theatre this weekend is scheduled to debut its modern version of “The Wizard of Oz” as part of its Stories on Stage series.

Beatrice Bell
Beatrice

Both performances – 10 a.m. Friday (for schools) and 1:30 p.m. Saturday (general public) – will be streamed, with a talk-back session featuring the cast and creative team after each one.

This current version of “Oz” parallels the original story but doesn’t follow it directly. The entire real-world story has been updated and the characters are all versions of the originals.

The play centers on Isadora Thatcher, an eighth-grader who is finding life difficult and at least a little unsatisfying. The characters in this version have been refreshed to reflect Isadora’s reality.

The script offers a more contemporary approach to characterization, according to a statement from PYT, providing more information about the motivations of the characters – what they want and why they are the way they are.

Meg Fischer Venuti, PYT’s education director, wrote the script and directed the cast via Zoom.

“Even though the details of the story are different from the original, the message that home is where the heart is absolutely shines through and the actors picked up on that right away,” she said. “The script is funny, and the actors are doing a wonderful job with delivery and character work. The show pays homage to the original, yet it’s been updated for a modern audience. I think audiences will find that the characters, both new and old, will feel familiar and grounded.”

Mountain View resident Beatrice Bell stars as Isadora Thatcher. The cast also includes Laila Kleinberg (as Ms. G/Glinda), Avery Fox (Emma/Scarecrow), Elowyn Ingler (Jordan/Tin Lady), Talia Lawit (Alex/Cowardly Lion), Eric Matsumoto (Joe/Cornelius/Guard), Alexa Muchnick (Makayla/Elm/Tour Guide), Siri Nissar (Riley/Tilda/Kelly), Athena Hart (Sophia/Munchkin Mayor), Ani Lawit (Elena/Wicked Witch), Megan Branstad (Aria/Flying Llama), Viola Nissar (Bethany/Flying Unicorn) and Beau Bornmann (Dad/Wizard).

Val Zvinyatskovsky serves as video director and Olivia Spreen is the stage manager.

Tickets to Friday’s school show are $2 each for groups of 20 or more and $5 each for smaller groups. Tickets to Saturday’s performance are $7.

For tickets and more information, visit pytnet.org.

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