MAT opening youth production of ‘Wizard of Oz’

Rachel Jamieson, Havre Daily News

Rachel Jamieson, Havre Daily News

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson
Kate Hemmer, playing Dorothy, and Tehya Vauthier, playing the Tin Man, help Jordan Rader, playing the Scarecrow, during a dress rehearsal Tuesday of the Montana Actors’ Theatre youth production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Montana Actors’ Theatre is holding its youth production of “The Wizard of Oz” starting Thursday at 7 p.m. at the former North 40 location in the Holiday Village Mall.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The production will run this Thursday through Saturday starting at 7 p.m. and next Thursday through Saturday starting at 7 p.m. as well.

Much of MAT’s season was canceled after social distancing and stay-at-home rules were put in place in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the phased re-opening of the state is relaxing some of the restrictions.

The adaptation is of L. Frank Baum’s novel, which was made into a well-known 1939 musical film that was one of the first colored movies, is about young Dorothy Gale, who is torn from her home from a tornado and swept away to the colorful world of Oz where she meets unusual characters including the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Lion, The Wicked Witch of the East and West of course, the Wizard of Oz.

One of three MAT interns, Youth Production Director Hannah Bricker said things have been going well even with some restrictions.

She also said she has learned a lot.

“I got to learn a lot of the aspects and I’m so excited to see the kids actually – they perform already – but to see them really show the community what MAT’s youth is capable of,” she said. “It’s amazing, these kids are really great.”

She has learned one has to be really patient with children, she said, adding that she learned how to communicate what she wants on stage.

“What I’ve most enjoyed is seeing all the kids and their characters come out and see what they want to do,” she said.  “… Seeing what the kids are capable of is what I’ve enjoyed the most.”

Things have changed since MAT started up again in June.

For a while, she said, the children had to be up on the stage with their masks on.

The interns go through a checklist every day to ask the children if they had any symptoms such as:

• Fever of 100.5 F or above, or possible fever symptoms like alternating chills

• Cough

• Trouble breathing, shortness of breath or severe wheezing

• Chills or repeated shaking with chills

• Muscle aches

• Sore throat

• Loss of smell, taste or a change in taste

• Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

• Headache

• None of the above

She said the interns are always wearing masks to make sure they are staying safe as much as the children.

MAT has a total of three interns for this production. Bricker is the youth production director, Marcee Murphy is making costumes and Aria Pratt runs the technical side of things as well as building sets.

When it comes to production night, people can bring their own lawn chairs, but chairs will be provided, Bricker said.

Masks are strongly encouraged for use, she said, and will be available.

Tickets are available for purchase online at .

She said she prefers people to purchase them online to limit the face-to-face contact interaction, but tickets will be available in-person as well.

“It’s nothing they’ve seen before, I mean The Wizard of Oz everybody knows the story, but we added our own little twist – I’m not going to give it away you just got to come and see it,” Bricker said.

Photos by Colin Thompson

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