Entertainment

Latest touring ‘Oz’ adaptation may not be in Kansas anymore, but it’s true to the original

“The Wizard of Oz” comes to Ovens Auditorium for three performances this week.
“The Wizard of Oz” comes to Ovens Auditorium for three performances this week. Production photo

The story of the Kansas farm girl and her little dog traveling over the rainbow to a magical land rife with good and evil has been reimagined and rewritten numerous times.

From a ’70s soul musical (1978’s “The Wiz”) to retellings by everyone from the Muppets to Mickey Mouse, it has inspired countless books, TV movies, songs and films, and served as a jumping-off point for “Wicked,” one of the biggest musicals of all-time.

Yet there’s nothing quite like the original 1939 film, which the current touring production of “The Wizard of Oz” adheres to faithfully.

“Our version is very close to the original movie,” says Kalie Kaimann, who plays Dorothy in the current tour, which follows the yellow brick road to Ovens Auditorium for a three-night stand beginning Tuesday. “There’s a couple of new elements for the stage. A lot of our magic is through the use of projections for the twister and the Oz head. There’s also an added musical element — a song that was cut from the movie, called ‘The Jitterbug.’”

Kaimann grew up watching the Judy Garland movie and is thrilled to step back into Dorothy’s ruby slippers having played the role during the Children’s Theater of Cincinnati’s 2016-2017 season. But it’s a role she’s wanted since childhood.

“When I was in fifth grade, I auditioned for ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at my school,” says Kaimann, who started acting when she was 8. “I wanted to be Dorothy but they cast me as the Wicked Witch. I was disappointed at first, but playing her was the most fun.”

“The show is so special, no matter what role you are. The story is so well-received,” she adds.

The role of Dorothy is unique in that Kaimann gets to utter iconic lines and the audience knows the words to most of the songs.

“There’s nothing I’d rather sing,” she says. “It’s special to be singing songs 90 percent of the audience is probably mouthing the words to.”

There’s also her co-star — a mutt named Murphy.

“Murphy is so sweet and has a very relaxed personality,” she says. “Most of the time, he’ll just fall asleep in my arms.”

‘The Wizard of Oz’

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Where: Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd.

Tickets: $34-$64.

Details: 800-745-3000; www.ticketmaster.com.

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