On Stage

Fine Arts Network Goes Over the Rainbow

Follow the yellow brick road to the Old Town Temecula Community Theater as the Fine Arts Network Theater Company presents, “The Wizard of Oz.”

“The show is about a girl named Dorothy Gale and her adventures in the magical land of Oz, which apparently exists beyond the rainbow,” Director Derek Heid said during a recent interview. “When Dorothy decides that no one at home understands her, she inadvertently finds herself in a surreal landscape and, despite its beauty, soon finds herself longing for the one place she wanted to escape; her family’s farm in Kansas.”

In a play with a script Heid refers to as “a very faithful adaptation of the film,” audiences will be reintroduced to the beloved characters and places they fell in love with the first time they saw the 1939 Judy Garland classic, but with the added experience of seeing it live onstage right in front of them.

“There is an energy in live theater that you can’t get from a screen,” Heid said. “Actors thrive off of a live audience and vice versa, and the performance is deeper and more satisfying as a result.”

The Fine Arts Network (FAN) is a Temecula-based non-profit organization committed to bringing excellent artistic and cultural opportunities to the Inland Empire.

“FAN and groups like it fulfill a much-needed service in the community; keeping arts alive and available to both theater-goers and performers,” Heid said. “I think that it is important for every area to have a viable venue for theatrical expression, and FAN is one of many avenues to that end, available to the Temecula community.”

“There is an energy in live theater that you can’t get from a screen. Actors thrive off of a live audience and vice versa, and the performance is deeper and more satisfying as a result.”

In the film version of “The Wizard of Oz,” Ray Bolger (scarecrow,) Bert Lahr (cowardly lion,) and Jack Haley (Tin Man) joined Garland’s Dorothy in her quest to find her way home. In the FAN production, Heid wanted to find a cast who would leave just as memorable an impression on audience as the original film cast left, so many decades ago.

“Our main cast is spectacular,” Heid said. “We have a great mix of returning regulars as well as some cast members that are experiencing their first time in a lead role with a FAN production. Their chemistry is wonderful, especially between our Dorothy and Wicked Witch, who are real-life daughter and mother.”

FAN’s “Wizard of Oz” stars Sidney Aptaker (Dorothy,) Travis Lyon as, of course, the cowardly Lion, Johnathon Royse (Tin Man) and Sean Kiralla (Scarecrow) as the famous four, as well as Aptaker’s mother, Tiffany Oglivie, as the Wicked Witch of the West. The full cast list can be found on FAN’s website.

When casting the show, Heid looked for actors willing to commit more to their roles than just mimicking the movie stars.

“It’s a difficult mix to find, with an adapted film, because typically a performer will either err too closely to the film performance or veer too wildly from it,” he said. “Thankfully, this cast nails it perfectly. Our leads, specifically, have been delivering performances that are faithful and fresh at the same time.”

After seeing a performance of “The Wizard of Oz,” Heid and the rest of the members of the Fine Arts Network hope the audience will not only leave the theater feeling exhilarated from seeing a top-notch production, but will also encourage their friends and family to follow them over the rainbow, to see the show for themselves.

“The cast has been hard at work on this show and I certainly hope that our audience is compelled to come back again and again,” Heid said. “And bring their friends in tow!”

The Wizard of Oz

Old Town Temecula Community Theater
August 1-10

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Holly Herndon

Holly Herndon

Holly has been covering arts & entertainment in the Temecula Valley for as long as she has been a part of the community. She loves San Diego sports almost as much as she loves her family.

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