The ’Wicked’ side of the ’Wizard’
|By Gabi Moore|
Michelle’s Studio of Dance offers original Oz fantasy
Laura Swanson is going green — literally — for her upcoming performance as Elphaba in “Oz,” the display of singing, dancing and acting being put on by Michelle’s Studio of Dance and Performing Arts. She said it takes more than three hours to transform into the green skinned “wicked witch” for the show, a combination of “The Wizard of Oz” and “Wicked.”
Swanson, who started dancing just two years ago, has been acting all her life, but she said that combining a variety of performing arts was different and difficult.
The performance is the brainchild of studio owner Michelle McDevitt, who said she and the cast worked together to combine the “cool story” of “Wicked” and the “classic” “Wizard.” “Wicked” tells the backstory of the wicked witch of the West, Elphaba, and her friendship with the good witch Glinda.
“I’m wicked, but I’m not really wicked,” Swanson said of Elphaba. In “Wicked,” originally a Gregory Maguire novel and now a hugely successful musical, Elphaba is revealed as a character who is essentially misunderstood rather than evil.
In “Oz,” Elphaba hatches a plan to save Oz, which is crumbling under the rule of her sister, Nessa Rose, the wicked witch of the east. Elphaba brings Dorothy to Oz, and the traditional “Wizard” story plays out, while Elphaba collaborates with Glinda to bring the kingdom together.
McDevitt said that combining so many different aspects into one performance was more difficult than she expected, but as the rehearsals went on, they worked on the show to streamline it and bring everything together smoothly.
“I want them to enjoy what they’re doing,” she said. “If they’re not leaving here totally excited then I’m doing something wrong. But I also want them to push themselves so they are learning and growing.”