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Anniversary in Oz

Gateway Players mark 35 years

Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, watches three Munchkins of the Lullaby League sing their praise of Dorothy (partly hidden beside her) for crushing the Wicked Witch of the East with a house. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
February 16, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — In several respects, the world was a very different place in 1975.

Three advisors to former President Richard Nixon were convicted for their roles in the Watergate break-in; the minimum wage rose to $2.10; the Vietnam War finally ended; the U.S. Senate reduced its filibuster-ending requirement to 60 votes from 67; "Barney Miller" and "The Jeffersons" started on TV. But one thing ties that year to the present — "The Wizard of Oz."

In 1975, "The Wiz," an all-black cast musical version of L. Frank Baum's famous book, started a 1,672-performance run on Broadway. In 2010, a youth theater version is being staged to kickoff the 35th anniversary season of Southbridge's Gateway Players.

Joni Metras, the play's director, doesn't quite remember that far back — she joined Gateway in 1982. But she remembers running things the last time the troupe staged "Oz," in 1998.

"We weren't sure how it would come off, but it turned out to be one of the best shows we've ever done," she said while waiting for this year's actors to get into costume for Monday's rehearsal. "That was really significant for us as a group."

See Wednesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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