Chemistry is strong in TheaterWorks’ ‘Wizard of Oz’

The Peoria Center for the Performing Arts holds 275 people, and Chris Hamby, the “Wizard of Oz” producing artistic director, said it will likely sell out.

Coming off of a sold-out run of its previous show, TheaterWorks is producing the “Wizard of Oz” this July.

The Peoria Center for the Performing Arts holds 275 people, and Chris Hamby, the “Wizard of Oz” producing artistic director, said it will likely sell out.

“We expect the ‘Wizard of Oz’ to continue the trend of sold-out shows,” Hamby said. “If people are looking to get tickets, they should get them early, so they can guarantee a good seat.”

TheaterWorks plans to keep “Wizard of Oz” true to its core, but according to Sarah Pansing, who will play Dorothy, there will be a twist to this production.

“It’s the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ and we’re going to try to stay true to the iconic, classic film version with Judy Garland, but we want to add our own unique interpretation to it as well,” Pansing said.

Hamby added, “Toto will be a puppet. He’s being constructed in Canada and is on his way to us. That will be a pretty unique piece for this production. We’re also trying to incorporate other puppetry elements that I don’t want to give away so that there is a surprise for our audiences. All of the puppetry is really meant to enhance the production — not to replace anything in any way.”

Rehearsals are still early in the process, but Pansing believes the chemistry of the cast and crew will lead to a great final product.

“Everyone is just so kind, and I can really tell it’s going to be a great production — I feel a good connection between everybody and the cast,” Pansing said.

There are three sects that make up TheaterWorks — MasterWorks, YouthWorks and PuppetWorks. Hamby said they overlap in this summer production, which is something he particularly enjoys.

“I’m able to work with young people, I’m able to work with adults and, if it makes sense and is appropriate, we can infuse the puppetry elements, which is a passion of mine,” Hamby said.

The show opens July 12 and runs until July 28. Tickets are on sale and run between $16 and $38, with discounted group pricings available for parties of more than eight. The production will take place at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, 8355 W. Peoria Avenue.

To purchase tickets or for further information, contact the box office at 623-815-7930 or visit theaterworks.org.