BUCKHANNON – Theatergoers can travel down Strawberry Lane to the Yellow Brick Road via the Buckhannon Community Theatre’s upcoming production of “The Wizard of Oz” this August.
Buckhannon Community Theatre Executive Director of Risë Hanifan attended the July 18 Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur meeting to highlight their upcoming productions.
“We had some dark years with COVID, and trying to come back from those dark years is always an effort to get momentum built back up and to get people interested,” Hanifan said. “It actually seemed to have the opposite effect because this is our first full season back after COVID, and typically for our spring shows, we’re begging people to come out and audition, and we had to cut people because we had too many people audition for the number of roles we had.”
Hanifan said their previous show, “The Red Velvet Cake War,” exceeded ticket sale expectations, and they think their summer production of “The Wizard of Oz” will have sold-out shows.
“This is the largest cast we’ve had, at least as long as I’ve been involved, but we even have about 30 munchkins,” Hanifan said. “It should be a very exciting show – lots of talent – and we’re just grateful to have so many talented people involved in the Buckhannon Community Theatre.”
The “Wizard of Oz” show will feature performances from Ella McNeish as Dorothy, Bryce O’Loughlin as the Tin Man, Matthew Stott as the Scarecrow, BJ Hoffman as the Cowardly Lion, Hanifan as Glinda the Good Witch and many more.
“Some people might wonder how much it can cost to put on a show, and our summer or spring shows might not have that big of a budget, but for a show like ‘Wizard of Oz,’ you’re looking at a budget of over $20,000, and we are a volunteer organization,” Hanifan said. “We do have some small stipends for our technical staff or directorial staff, but it’s just a fraction of what it costs.”
The BCT and Fish Hawk acres have partnered to raise money for their upcoming show with a themed farm dinner July 27.
“We try to find ways to offset that because we’re not going to make it up in ticket sales, so you’ll see we have fundraisers throughout the year, and one of our upcoming fundraisers is a farm dinner that is being provided by Fish Hawk Acres,” Hanifan said. “They have done a themed farm dinner for us July 27, so tickets are still available for that, too.”
The “Wizard of Oz” shows will take to the stage Aug. 3, 4 and 5 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 5-6 at 2 p.m. at the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts on West Virginia Wesleyan’s campus.
“Other things we have coming up this year is a murder mystery dinner theater in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, and it’s going to be at the Colonial Arts Center Oct. 13 and 14, which is the weekend before the Colonial’s grand opening,” Hanifan said. “Coming up in December, we’re very excited about ‘A Christmas Story,’ which is being directed by Dannie Stiles and produced by Keith Buchanan.”
Hanifan also encouraged the Rotary members to think about what productions they would like to see in 2024.
“Our election committee is in consultation now and talking about what 2024 is going to look like for BCT, so if any of you have suggestions or thoughts or anything that you hope to see, you can send me messages, and I will put that through to the Show Selection Committee,” Hanifan said.
The Rotary Club also presented Hanifan with a check for $500 to assist the BCT in covering some production costs.