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We’re off to See the Wizard—"The [Wonderful] Wizard of Oz"

By Betsy Barnett

July 4, 2024

Crow-Luther Cultural Events Center (CLCEC) is proud to bring a summer children’s theater event to the community of Eads and surrounding areas for the third year in a row with the production of the Wizard Of Oz that will be performed by local children at the Plains Theater in Eads on Friday, July 5 in two big performances at 4:00 pm and 5:30 pm.

Tickets are on sale now for both performances and cost the usual movie ticket price of $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for children under 12 years of age. Tickets for each performance can be purchased at Crow’s Stop & Shop Grocery Store, Kiowa Pharmacy, Kiowa County Independent, Kiowa Abstract Company, or from any CLCEC board member.

Concessions will be sold by the CLCEC board members during each performance, including the always popular Maine Scoop Ice Cream. The regular movie, Inside Out 2, will be playing after the two performance at 7:00 pm.

The concept of offering a children’s summer theater production on the stage at the Plains Theater in Eads began nearly a decade ago, but in 2022 and again in 2023 the CLCEC board finally contracted with the Missoula Children’s Theater to bring a stage production to Eads by offering area children starring roles in the Jungle Book (2022) and Rapunzel (2023). The Missoula Children’s Theater was a good way to start for the CLCEC in order to understand what it takes to put on such productions.

But this year they have branched out with the goal to develop a local theater group. CLCEC hired a local actress, Merena Lowe, who brings solid theater experience and credentials with her. As the director of the Wizard of Oz, Merena and a team of volunteers interested in promoting the dramatic arts in the southeastern Colorado region have spent countless hours with a group of approximately 30 kids, mostly from Eads but a handful from other communities, to bring a full stage production to the community.

Lowe and her volunteers including Debi Derby who is in charge of creating the sets, Lisa Walsh (costumes), Tim & Teri Jobe (stage and acting), and Marty Miller/Shawn Kraft (lighting and sound), Claire Prince (CLCEC board representative), Brenda Stoker and Sarah Asmus (assisting with kids), and the ladies at the churches and the Eads Senior Center who have baked dozens of cookies for snacks during the practice sessions held throughout June.

Lowe and the cast have been working extremely hard learning the various parts—some big, some smaller, all important. Lowe told the Independent, “I’d like to say that I couldn’t have asked for a better group of kids to do this production with. The kids bring their all every day and show strong dedication to the production that I wasn’t expecting a group of kids this young to be able to do. They show up to practice earlier than I do somedays and they are always ready to lend a hand to each other and me.”

As for the volunteers, Lowe is eternally thankful for their hard work, “Our volunteers are also amazing! They make everything possible by showing up when they’re supposed to for practices and helping me control the chaos. With Debi Derby doing sets and Lisa Walsh doing costuming I really think this project is something that is allowing us to bring the community together in the arts in a way that we haven’t been able to do in the past.”

Claire Prince, board member of the CLCEC, concurs with Lowe’s observation, “The board has been committed to offering the community an opportunity to fully develop a theater group of our own. We hope this is just the beginning of offering more play productions—even featuring adults in the future. But if we only manage to continue a Children’s Summer Theater production we’ll be thrilled with the accomplishment.”

The CLCEC board is thankful for the many generous sponsors for the Wizard of Oz production including CWC Rail, Inc, Kiowa County Independent, Kiowa County Library District, Lamar Library District, Salvation Army, Eads Senior Citizens, and Denise Nelson. The board would love to locate more sponsors for the event as there are numerous expenses associated with the production.

At any rate, it’s just about time—“we’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz!” Make sure you get on that yellow brick road and find your way to the Plains Theater on Friday, July 5 for two opportunities to watch Dorothy and her friends search for and find everything a person needs in life to be happy—a brain, a heart, a little courage—and especially—a home.

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