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Suwannee Valley Players follow the yellow brick road in next play

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By David Davis

John Waldrop is an HVAC business developer by day, but by night, he puts on his makeup and plays the part of Tin Man in the Suwannee Valley Player’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” — and he gets the irony.

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“Maybe that’s why I get to play Tin Man. I can get all the parts,” he said Saturday morning during a meet and greet at the Chief Theater.

The original play was adapted for the stage by L. Frank Baum, who wrote the timeless children’s book,“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”The original stage version opened at the Chicago Grand Opera House June 16, 1902. That was the only time Dorothy’s pet cow, Imogene, appeared in print, scripts or in a screenplay, presumably because it was easier to fit a person into a cow costume than that of a little dog.

The Suwannee Valley Players had their own challenges to work out.

But whether it was with a little black dog or a cow, Dorothy and her pet were swept up by a Kansas tornado and deposited in the land of Munchkins where she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion.

“The Wizard of Oz” premiered at the Majestic Theatre Jan. 20, 1903. The classic 1939 screen version featured Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley, as well as a new score by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg.

The play arrived on Broadway in the Majestic Theatre Jan. 21, 1903, where it ran for 293 performances until Dec. 31, 1904.

And now in the 114 years since the play first appeared onstage, the Suwannee Valley Players are bringing “The Wizard of Oz” to Chiefland.

Waldrop said the theater group had other plays it could have produced, but most of the members ruled on “The Wizard of Oz.”

“We’ve stayed true to the script. There some costume changes and watching on TV and watching in person is a different experience. We’re going to try to bring some of the special effects into the theater,” Waldrop said.

People should want to see the play because “it’s magical,” he said. “You would definitely want to bring all your kids to see it. It’s just an awesome experience.”

Grace Cowart, 15, is a freshman at Cedar Key School where she is involved in acting. She has been involved in acting at school and in community theater for about six years and she loves it. Her stage appearances include “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” and she has played the part of Dorothy before.

“I’ve played Dorothy before,” she said. “I’ve also played small roles in plays at school, which were written by the teacher.”

Grace said her friends at school are supportive and she would like to someday persue an acting career in film.

Open box office dates and times to pick up tickets are: Feb. 3, 6 p.m.- 8 p.m.; Feb. 7, 6 p.m.- 8 p.m.; Feb. 13, 6 p.m.- 8 p.m.; Feb. 18, 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.; Feb. 24, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.; and March 2, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

The show dates are March 3, 4, 5, 10,11,12, 17,18 and 19. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 8 p.m., and Sunday show times are 2 p.m. There will also be two Saturday matinees available.

Tickets are $10 for seniors, students, military, law enforcement, first responders, and $12 for adults. For reservations and information, please call 352-493-2787.