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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

'Wizard' takes flight on area stage

Friday, June 22, 2007

What would the "Wizard of Oz" be without the flying monkeys? Or the flying, bicycling Miss Gulch during the twister scene? Or the witches - good and evil - who come and go in the familiar production?

Exactly! It just wouldn't be the same.

That is why the Cherokee Community Theater board called in experts from Foy Inventerprises, Inc. out of Las Vegas to come in and "teach" the characters how to "fly" using a special (and "magical") apparatus provided by the company.

"If you want to do the "Wizard of Oz" right, there should be flying," said Chip Christensen, flying director, who was in Cherokee for four days to train the actors and the local flying technicians on using the equipment. There is an art to flying, he insists.

"When I see the "Wizard of Oz," I want to see all the effects in the play, it adds to the play and brings a nice spice to the show."

The Foy members arrived in Cherokee on Sunday and wrapped up their training on Wednesday - the day before the opening of "Oz" tonight at the Cherokee Community Center.

The actors and actresses wear special harnesses beneath their costumes that are hooked up to cables to life them off the ground and settle them on the ground, leaving the audience to wonder, "How did they do that?"

The company was called in to help during the Cherokee Community Theater's production of "Peter Pan" about 10 years ago; pleased with the special effects, the group has been saving up funds to be able to bring back the company.

Foy Inventerprises has worked with actors and actress all across the world in such facets as Broadway plays to community plays, movies, award shows and television shows. Christensen said he enjoys sharing the special effects with the world, helping to make productions or appearances more memorable.

"Our community theater is really strong," said Jomi Anderson, member of the community theater board, "and we've been around a long time."

Play director Mollie Loughlin commented that it was an "intense three days" during the flying practice but in the end it will all be worth it.

"It's phenomenal that a small town theater can make magic happen and it's a great opportunity for our community theater to do something at this level. The flying is a neat added element of the show and it's a lot of fun."

In addition, Foy Inventerprises brought Surround Sound equipment for the theater, making the audience feel like they are in the middle of the twister that sweeps Dorothy's house away. There are other effects that will surprise the audience.

The production has 50 cast members and 40 behind-the-scenes people from all across the area.

Show dates are June 21-23 at 7:30 p.m.; June 24 at 2 p.m.; June 28-30 at 7:30 p.m.; and July 1 at 2 p.m. For reservations, call (712) 225-4440.