Arts & EntertainmentThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Wizard of Oz Inspires Young Actors, Writers and Performance Artist

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The fantasy world of Oz and author Frank Baum will be brought to life in an original performance on May 7 at the Paramount Hudson Valley Theater in Peekskill.

If there was ever an incredible backstory to “The Wizard of Oz,” an original live show next month will reveal that story.

Rich with colorful characters, the fantasy world of Oz was made real to young readers by author Frank Baum in 1900 with the first publication of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

The story has inspired an original performance on Sunday, May 7 at 3 p.m. at the Paramount Hudson Valley Theater in Peekskill. Audiences will be entertained with an exceptional cadre of talented musicians, dancers and actors of all ages for the hour-long program.

The performance is divided into four parts with some actors appearing in different parts playing the same or different characters. The first part of the show, “OZ on Stage,” is an Antonia Arts production directed by dance educator and theatrical producer Scarlett Antonia. It features the Wiz Kidz, a troupe of highly talented young actors and playwrights from 7 to 11 years old who wrote, developed and act in their original play inspired by the Oz story.

Antonia collaborated with known performance artist Marcy Freedman, who will be narrating “Frank and the Women of OZ.” This part of the show includes music, dance and large-scale slides highlighting what Freedman claims are aspects of “The Wizard of Oz” story that have long been concealed.

The two other portions of the production are “General Jinjur’s Army of Revolt” and

“The Reveal!”

Freedman sheds a bright light on Baum who was directly influenced by his suffragist mother-in-law, Matilda Joslyn Gage, a strong woman who, as Freedman shows, is portrayed in many female characters in all 14 full-length ‘Oz’ books written by Baum.

Gage, a known abolitionist who advocated for better treatment of Native Americans, collaborated with then-modern feminists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. Well-educated and a prolific writer on a plethora of topics, Gage’s life directly informs Freedman of the progressive nature and strong sense of independence in Baum’s female characters. By attributing these personal qualities to Gage, Freedman’s big takeaway is that Baum was undoubtedly a feminist.

Playing Dorothy is 11-year-old Eva Loren Goetz, who said she identifies with the character.

“Dorothy is independent like me and it is fun being her character,” Goetz said. “Overall, acting is a lot of fun.”

Mikayla Lesende, 11, plays a character called Tip. She also wrote part of the show.

“I was always shy but I do like to see how stories make people happy,” Lesende said.

Eight-year-old Jacen Hudson, who plays a soldier and announces the different scenes, said he never acted before this show.

“I like connecting with other actors and I have made a lot of friends,” Hudson remarked.

Other young actors in the Wiz Kidz include Emma Loren Goetz (Toto) and Sara Bloom (Daniela). Khaleesi Segarra-Forde plays Glinda, a character that she admires.

“Glinda was a good person and she helped people,” Segarra-Forde said.

Other performers are Sonia Lee Garber (General Jinjur); Steven Worthy (Guardian of the Gate); Valerie Tornambe (as Glinda in the second part of the show); Liz Peterson (Wicked Witch) and Amy Reyesas (Ozma.)

Vilmarie Feliciano is the assistant director and stage manager. The production also includes dancer Mary Sofianos and musicians Nanette Garcia and Maurice Minichino of Skin Against Metal, who will premiere their original music at the show.

Paramount Hudson Valley Theater is located at 1008 Brown St. in Peekskill. Tickets are $20 each and $10 for children. For tickets and more information, call 914-739-0039, visit or e-mail




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