Musical tour coming to Stephens

Julia Ferrell

Seventy years after “The Wizard of Oz” arrived in Ames theaters, the musical will be performed Tuesday night at Stephens Auditorium.

After launching in October, the musical is now touring more than 70 cities across the United States and Canada to celebrate the musical’s 70th anniversary.

Although the nine-month tour may sound exhausting, cast members are more than happy to participate.

“It’s all my childhood wrapped into one,” said Eric Mota, who portrays Nikko, commander of the flying monkeys. “I have to take a moment to thank my lucky stars and just be grateful for everything I have.”

Trying to stand out from the movie, the stage musical adds its own originality to the script. For example, the ensemble performs the jitterbug — a dance sequence that was taken out of the movie before its completion.

The cast also attempts to put its own spin on the story’s characters.

“Everybody has the movie in their head, and you can’t escape it — and you don’t want to escape it, because it is so classic,” said Peter Gosik, who portrays the Tin Man. “Because we know the characters so well, there is a lot of room to bring yourself to it.”

The cast said the play is also bringing in a diverse crowd: Younger people, who are experiencing the show for the first time, and older people, who grew up with the film.

“You get a mix of emotion with the mix of a crowd,” Mota said. “The little kids are screaming and shouting because it’s Dorothy and all the characters that they love, and the older crowd is sometimes taken aback with emotion because they’re re-living their childhood.”

After 70 years of audiences seeing one group of actors on the film, the touring “Wizard of Oz” has now inspired a new cast to bring the same message to the stage.

“I’ve been trying to get to this place in life, and here I am playing this role,” Mota said.