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Firebird Theatre Presents The Wizard Of Oz

It’s not often that area residents have the opportunity to see a live musical on the historic stage of the Colonial Theatre, but this weekend offers just that chance!

This is the second year that The Firebird Theatre has teamed up with the Colonial Theatre for its summer productions, which this year are The Wizard of Oz and The Trouble in Oz. Both productions feature children and teens from many schools in the area who have spent the last few months learning about staging a musical, from blocking to costuming to orchestration.

Janet Hoehl, founder and president of the non-profit Firebird explains, “Community theatre is a great venue for children to learn how to stand up in front of a group, make eye contact and speak out! Theatre offers many intangible benefits for children: it teaches self-confidence, public speaking, the value of commitment and dedication, the opportunity to practice working in groups, to name a few.” She has dedicated the better part of her summer to producing and managing Firebird’s activities.

Last year Firebird staged Bugsy Malone and America’s Tallest Tales to great success. This year the theatre initially decided to put on one musical and Wizard was chosen because it had parts for younger and older performers.

“However,” says Hoehl, “we had so many great kids come out to auditions and we did not want to have to turn anyone away. We felt that every kid who wanted to be on stage should have a chance. So our board and production team agreed to stage an additional show, The Trouble in Oz, to allow more kids to participate.” Trouble is a short one-act musical whose story revisits Oz a year after Dorothy’s initial appearance.

Firebird’s mission is to create a low-cost opportunity for kids to get involved in theatre arts. To that end, scholarships were available to children who could not afford the nominal dues and reduced price tickets have been made available to local community groups.

Firebird has benefited greatly from the support of the Phoenixville community, from the local Kiwanis to Bridge Street store-owners who have advertised the show in their windows. This year the Phoenix Village Art Center created a Prop Shop class where participants made props for both Oz productions.

Both productions are directed by volunteers with long-time roots in community theatre. In addition many other parents and community volunteers have spent countless hours sewing costumes, painting scenery, creating props and supervising rehearsals, making this truly a grass-roots community endeavor.

The Wizard of Oz is backed by a live orchestra. Because the Colonial has a permanent movie screen installed, the show uses some creative scenery and special effects to conjure up the Land of Oz.

Performances are Friday, July 27th for The Wizard of Oz at 7:00 pm. On Saturday, July 28th the matinee is at 11:30 am for Trouble and 1:00 for Wizard. Saturday evening performances are 5:30 pm for Trouble and 7:00 pm for Wizard. Your ticket admits you to both shows! Tickets range from $8-13 and can be purchased through the Colonial Theatre’s box office at www.thecolonialtheatre.com/2012/events/firebird-theatre/

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