TUPELO • Mary Evelyn Maynard admits she knew little about “The Wizard of Oz” until she and other Civic Ballet dancers were encouraged to watch it.

Once the seventh-grader saw the classic 1939 movie about Dorothy and her visit to the magical land of Oz, she enjoyed it.

“I never really watched it that much, so I had to see what it’s about,” Maynard said. “It’s fun. I really like it.”

Maynard will take a turn wearing the ruby pointe shoes of the lead character in Civic Ballet’s production of “OZ.” Maynard and Faith Williams are sharing the Dorothy role during the company’s four performances next week at the Link Centre.

Civic Ballet will present a morning performance Friday, Feb. 26 that will be livestreamed and recorded for school students. Show times are 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27.

Thom Yzaguirre, Civic Ballet’s artistic director, said he was inspired to bring “OZ” to Tupelo after seeing the Cincinnati Ballet’s production of it.

“I’ve seen it at recitals, but not a professional production of it,” he said. “So, I drove to Cincinnati one weekend to see it, and it was pretty spectacular. Of course, they have the fly system with everything flying because of the tornado. It was so clever how they did some things. Nobody has done it here, so I thought it would be a fun production for Tupelo.”

Civic Ballet will not have the luxury of a fly system or backdrops like the Emerald City on the Link Centre stage. However, the company wants to emphasize the dances, the detailed costumes and the character development in its adaptation. “OZ” will be presented in three acts with a brief intermission between acts.

“We’re trying to do more with the costumes and the dancing,” Yzaguirre said. “The story is so unique. The movie is slightly different from the book (L. Frank Baum’s ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’), so we went more along the lines of the movie. We cut out a couple of scenes, but we have pretty much everything else.”

Since Civic Ballet’s principal dancers are female, the gender of characters from the movie was changed. The Tin Man is now the Tin Woman (played by Averi Coleman) and the Cowardly Lion is the Cowardly Lioness (Sara Catherine Wood). They join the Scarecrow (Perrin Elkin) and Dorothy (Maynard and Williams) on the yellow brick road to see the wizard.

The Wicked Witch of the West (Sophie Hoard) and Glinda the Good Witch (Cameron Stevens) will be there, too. Although there won’t be Munchkins, younger Civic Ballet dancers and students of the North Mississippi Dance Centre (the company’s home studio) will play supporting roles.

Carlton Wall of the West of Shake Rag improv comedy troupe will be the voice of the Wizard. Yzaguirre will make a cameo in the production.

When either Maynard or Williams are in the Dorothy role, the other is cast as the Poppy Queen who appears when Dorothy, Toto and friends become sleepy while running toward the Emerald City.

Williams, a high school freshman, is excited about splitting time with Maynard.

“Sharing the role with a good friend is nice,” she said. “It’s a lot of work for both of us, but we love it and enjoy it.”

Production of “OZ” is supported in part by a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Pre-sale tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for children age 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased from Civic Ballet’s website, civicballet.org, or at the door before a performance for $25 adults and $15 children.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the maximum capacity at each performance is limited to 150 people. Social distancing guidelines will be observed. A mask must be worn at all times during the performance for everyone age 2 and older.

For more information, call (662) 601-8042 or email civicballet.ms@gmail.com.

bobby.pepper@journalinc.com

TWITTER: @bobbypepper30

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