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“The Wizard of Oz” radio play set for April 13

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

“The Wizard of Oz” is coming to Chilton County airwaves in a special production by the Central Alabama Performing Arts Guild.

The radio play will air on WKLF 1000AM / 95.5FM, WSMX-LP 98.3FM and wklfradio.com at 2 p.m. on April 13.

The production features a mixture of those who have participated with the Guild in the past and some new voices.

Student Savannah Hayes performed in the Guild’s stage productions of “Play On” and “James and the Giant Peach” but this was her first radio play with the group.

She said she wanted to be a part of this year’s radio production because “it (The Wizard of Oz) has always been one of my favorite fairy tales.”

Going into the audition, Hayes wanted to play Dorothy but was surprised when she found out she was picked for the part. She said it was her first time playing a major character.

“I was really excited,” Hayes said. “I actually didn’t think I would get it because a lot of people showed up to the audition.”

She prepared for the recording by reading her lines at home and practicing with the cast. She said she enjoyed being with the cast.

Hayes said she was looking forward to hearing how everyone did his or her character.

A challenging line for her was “I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore” because it is a transition to a new scene.

She said while she used her natural voice, she did add more emotion to it at critical scenes.

Hayes said she was thankful for the opportunity.

Organizers Mary and Mike Schiermann always try to give participants a character that can use their natural voice.

“They are very, very good at putting the right people in the right spots,” Melonee Ryan, who played Auntie Em, said. “I found it to be a lot of fun … They just do a wonderful job.”

She said she enjoys performing but had never been in a play before.

“I thought it was a good opportunity of something I would enjoy,” Ryan said.

She enjoyed voicing Auntie Em because she could use her “real Southern voice.”

Ryan said she enjoyed the “camaraderie of just everyone coming together.”

The entire cast did a read through together one Saturday before any of the recording started.

All of the crowd scenes and smaller parts were recorded first on one Saturday, then the next Saturday they recorded all of the major characters.

Parts were recorded individually.

“You kind of have to see yourself communicating with someone who is not actually in the room with you,” Keith Cullen, who played the Wizard of Oz said.

Mike Schiermann then edited all of the voices together and added the sounds effects and music.

Her favorite part in the movie version of “The Wizard of Oz” is the Cowardly Lion.

“I just thought he was funny,” Ryan said.

For Savannah, her favorite part of the story is when Dorothy meets the Scarecrow.

Ryan said it was good to see the Central Alabama Performing Arts Guild bringing the arts to Chilton County and to be a part of that.

For Cullen, it was his first time being a part of a CAPAG production.

Cullen had enjoyed theater when it was his major as a college undergraduate but has not done much with it since then.

“Now that I am retired from higher education, I have more time on my hands,” Cullen said.

He said theater is something he has always enjoyed, and his background is in radio and communications.

He auditioned for the cast after seeing an announcement about the opportunity.

Cullen especially enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people and see the talent they have. He said he was amazed at how many talented people there were in the county.

For part of the recording, Cullen spoke through a microphone with a special filter to create the booming voice of the wizard.

“My favorite part is when Toto pulls back the curtain,” Cullen said. “He goes from this big mean menacing voice to kind of a mild, meek but also still a con man kind of a voice.”

Janie Allred played the Wicked Witch, a part she has played on stage with other community theater groups in the region.

“I thought it was so original to do a radio production, and I love radio,” Allred said. “I thought it would be a lot of fun and sure enough it was fun … It was so much fun to sit in front of a microphone and cackle. I could imagine flying around on a broom.”

Cast members will celebrate the completed project by listening to the live broadcast together.