In partnership with the Center for the Arts at Monmouth University, the Axelrod Contemoprary Ballet Theater (AXCBT) will present the world premiere of Artistic Director Gabriel Chajnik’s multi-media dance musical, The Lost Princess of Oz, in the Pollak Theater at Monmouth University in Long Branch, NJ. A special preview performance will feature a Q&A with Chajnik and the artists following the performance on August 19. The production opens on Saturday, August 20 at 7:30pm, and runs over two weekends with nine total performances ending on Sunday, August 28.
The production serves as a sequel to The Wizard of Oz and was conceived of and directed and choreographed by Chajnik, with libretto by Shannon Hill based on two L. Frank Baum classics, The Lost Princess of Oz and Ozma of Oz. It continues the adventures of beloved characters Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, the Lion, Glinda the Good Witch of the North and the Wizard of Oz while introducing new characters including the Frogman, the Patchwork Girl and Tik-Tok. The Lost Princess of Oz follows the group as they search for Princess Ozma to recover the magic stolen from Oz.
The cast features Asbury Park’s own chart-topping country duo, Reagan Richards and Gordon Brown of Williams Honor. Brown plays Frank L. Baum who sits on the stage writing the unfolding tale on his typewriter as it happens on stage. Richards narrates the tale as “Billina the Talking Hen.”
“I am honored to bring together such an incredible team,” Chajnik said. “I have been envisioning creating a magical story about what happens next for Dorothy and her friends in Oz, and our talented artists have created a show that will lead our audience on an enchanting and exhilarating journey. It has been an absolute pleasure working with Vaune Peck, director at the Center for the Arts, on this project. I am thrilled to bring this fairy tale to life at the beautifully renovated Pollak Theater at Monmouth University.”
The cast is comprised of AXCBT company members and students (ages seven and up) from local dance studios. In addition to Richards and Brown, the professional cast includes Denzel Green as the Cowardly Lion, Paulo Gutierrez as the Scarecrow, Alyssa Harris as Caykee, Lindsey Jorgensen as the “dancing Billina,” Olivia Miranda as the Patchwork Girl, Jose Rojas as the Tin Man, while Tuyaya Balzhieva and Gillian Worek and will alternate in the role of Glinda the Good Witch. Student dancers round out the cast, including Lilakoi Grover and Alina Xio, who alternate in the role of Dorothy; Scarlet Collins as Jellia Jam; and AXCBT Trainee Deshon Parkman as Frogman.
Andrew Black, who appeared in Anything Goes on Broadway, created the tap numbers for Collins (Jellia Jam).
A blue grass-infused score composed by Chris Becker will be performed live at every performance by an ensemble, which includes musicians selected by Maestro Jason Tramm.
“This production would not have been realized without the tremendous support of Axelrod Performing Arts Center (APAC), APAC CEO Jess Levy, APAC Artistic Director Andrew DePrisco and AXCBT President Elise Feldman,” said Chajnik. “The resources they provide are invaluable, and they inspire me to not only dream ‘big’ but also realize my vision. A special thanks also goes to New Music USA for funding the live music for this work.”
Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater’s The Lost Princess of Oz will be presented at New Jersey’s Pollak Theater from August 19-28. For more information, visit www.axcbt.org.