published Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Cast of 100-plus set for Signal Mountain's 'Wizard of Oz' — July 12-27

  • photo
    Signal Mountain Playhouse’s “The Wizard of Oz” features, standing, from left, Mark Oglesby as The Cowardly Lion, Austin Harnsberger as The Scarecrow, Mary Beth Booker as Dorothy and Rob Inman as The Tin Man. In front is Colette Smith as Toto.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

What: “The Wizard of Oz”

When: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, July 12-13, 19-20, 26-27

Where: Signal Mountain Playhouse amphitheater, corner of Rolling Way and James Boulevard (behind Signal Mountain Police and Fire departments)

Admission: $15 adults, $5 children

Phone: 523-886-5243

Website: www.smph.org

The hum you hear from Signal Mountain is scores of sewing machines at work.

They’re making Munchkin and monkey costumes for the Signal Mountain Playhouse production of “The Wizard of Oz,” which opened Friday, July 5, for the first of four weekends.

“Everybody on the mountain is sewing something,” says Anne Rittenberry, publicity chairwoman for the playhouse.

This is the playhouse’s fourth time to do the musical but first since 2001. It also staged the show in 1975 and 1993.

Rittenberry says it doesn’t really matter what show is produced annually because it always has parts for lots of children and always is done well.

“The public is always delighted,” she says. “And there are always new children to come to a show like this.”

The cast has more than 100 people, many of them children portraying Munchkins and Oz’s flying monkeys.

The story is L. Frank Baum’s familiar saga of Dorothy’s trip over the rainbow and her journey to Oz, popularized first in the 1939 movie and later watched by generations of children.

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” are just two of the songs people remember.

“People want it,” Rittenberry says of large-scale musicals. “People like to see what they’re familiar with.”

Mary Beth Booker, in her first playhouse role, will play Dorothy. She is a recent Vanderbilt University graduate who will be going on to medical school.

Newcomers Austin Harnsberger and Megan Clark are the Scarecrow and the Wicked Witch of the West, respectively.

Playhouse vets Rob Inman and Mark Oglesby play the Tin Man and Cowardly Lion.

“Quite a few are repeaters,” Rittenberry says of the actors. “Some do every show, every summer. Sometimes they’re the lead, sometimes the goat.”

In all, more than 200 people are involved with the production.

One of those, Glenn Showalter, designed the set for the outdoor venue, something he has either shared or done every year since the playhouse began in 1972, according to Rittenberry.

Allan Ledford is the director, David Wood choreographer and Sandy Morris orchestra director.

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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