A show for all ages

LAKE BENTON – The Lake Benton Opera House turned to a classic favorite when it decided on a summer musical this year.

“The Wizard of Oz” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. July 24-26, 30-31 and Aug. 2, and 2 p.m. July 27 and Aug. 2-3, at the Lake Benton Opera House. The show is being directed by Mark Wilmes.

Samantha Fleet, who portrays Dorothy, said she had a few reservations at first about trying out for the show.

“I was planning on having a free summer,” she said. Then she got to thinking about how she really liked the play. “And people kept asking me if I was trying out because they said ‘you would make a good Dorothy.'”

So Fleet decided to audition, trying out for just the role of Dorothy and no one else.

“I was really nervous,” Fleet said. She said she didn’t like waiting for the cast list to come out. “It came out, and I was very excited.”

Fleet said she’s in almost every single scene, but the show is so much fun.

“I thought it was going to be a lot of work, but it really isn’t because I’m having a conversation with everything,” Fleet said.

Emilirose Rasmusson portrayed Dorothy in the Marshall Area Stage Company production of “Wizard.” This time around, she’s playing Hickory, the scarecrow. Her father, Stephen, had played the scarecrow in Marshall’s show.

“It’s strange because my dad played this role before,” she said. “I have to remember different lines now.”

Of the main roles, the scarecrow appealed to Rasmusson.

“As fun as it can be to play the Wicked Witch, she doesn’t sing,” Rasmusson said. The role of the Wicked Witch went to Paula Nemes, Rasmusson’s mother.

“It’s a bit confusing, I’m not sure if I’m meant to be smart or not,” Rasmusson said about the character of Hickory.

And the role is more physical than she’s ever done before.

“I have to learn to fall over without hurting myself,” Rasmusson said.

Nine years ago, Nemes’ dog, Gizmo played Toto for the Marshall Area Stage Company’s production of “The Wizard of Oz.” He’s reprising the role for the Opera House.

“He’s been doing really good,” Fleet said about Gizmo.

“We’re bribing him with lots of treats,” Rasmusson said.

Taylor Holck chose to audition for the Tin Man.

“I’m generally a bad dancer, the Tin Man was the perfect for me,” Holck said.

Holck said that “The Wizard of Oz” was the show that got him into theater in the first place. Several years ago, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton High School performed the show at the Opera House.

“I knew I had to jump at the chance if it was ever done here again,” Holck said.

Compared to other roles he’s had in the past, Holck said, the Tin Man is a good change of pace. He said he’s normally cast as monsters or old men. He said he has to be fairly emotional in the role, as the Tin Man tends to cry a lot.

Tom Schmitt, who portrays the Cowardly Lion, said he’s always wanted to do “The Wizard of Oz.” He was going to try out for Marshall’s production, and he’s kicking himself for not doing so.

But now he has his chance in his first show with the Opera House. Schmitt said the Lion would’ve been his character of choice.

“Honestly, I would’ve taken anything they gave me,” Schmitt said. “I’m kind of a goof anyway.”

The Lion is a fun role to play, Schmitt said.

“After one of the first rehearsals, I went home and told my wife I am going to have fun,” Schmitt said. “He’s the comic relief; I’ve learned to let myself go.”

Holck said that working with the other actors, such as Fleet, Rasmusson and Schmitt, has been beneficial.

“We each bring our characters out to the fullest,” Holck said.