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Alban Theatre to present 'The Wizard of Oz'

Sep. 03, 2011 @ 12:00 AM

ST. ALBANS -- About 45 minutes from Huntington, the small town of St. Albans may seem unassuming, but the strides taken toward enhancing the arts at The Alban Theatre have people from great distances making the trip to see what all the hubbub is about.

While a community theater production of "The Wizard of Oz" may not seem like the most intriguing lure to attract theatergoers, director and theater manager Adam Bryan has taken community theater to a new level of intricacy and involvement.

"We're really trying to get the arts community enriched in this area, and this is just one of the shows that got a whole lot of people from a whole lot of different places involved," said Bryan. "So far it's been a great experience."

There are two major aspects that contribute to having The Alban's production of 'Oz' stand out among others. The first is the amount of time, devotion and involvement that have occurred to make this show happen. Ninety people showed up to audition for the musical, and from those, only 48 were cast, ranging in ages from five to mid-50s.

The second factor to push The Alban's 'Oz' into a more interesting direction came with the inclusion of the Huntington-area rock band Qiet's involvement.

For about a year, the band has been playing shows in Huntington, Charleston and Athens, Ohio.

"Qiet came and played a concert at the Alban with our concert series, and I really enjoyed their sound," said Bryan. "I talked to them afterward and mentioned that we were doing 'Wizard of Oz' this summer, and they immediately offered their involvement."

Bryan's initial concept was to darken the production of 'Oz' by keeping it closer to the book and less to the movie.

"With Qiet's sound, a lightbulb went on," said Bryan. "It will set the scene perfectly, and it's been nothing but a joy. They've done a fantastic job."

While the songs that were sung by the cast had to keep relatively close to the original source material, Qiet came through and included a number of different instruments, like an accordion and a saw, and since no music was written for such instruments, the band had to re-score a great deal of the music to fit its particular style. Beyond that, the band had free reign to create a number of different sounds.

"When it comes to the underscoring, scene change music and intermission, I just said 'Go and let me see what you can do,' and it's worked out fantastically," said Bryan.

Two performances remain for the show -- 8 p.m. today, Sept, 3 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4. Tickets are $15 and $10 for children.

Shows take place at the Alban Arts and Conference Center, located at 65 Olde Main, St. Albans. For more information, visit www.albanartscenter.com.