Last updated: July 09. 2014 11:56AM - 153 Views
Jeff Gates Contributing columnist

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Home sweet home.

The exploits of young Dorothy Gale from Kansas and her three newly-found comrades have risen to legendary status in the 75 years since the characters’ inaugural debuts on the silver screen.

Starting tonight, your friends and neighbors bring the classic musical to life as Madison County Arts Council (MCAC) presents “The Wizard of Oz.” The show will be on the London High School stage starting at 7:30 p.m. The curtain will go up the same time on Friday and Saturday nights, with a 3 p.m. matinee also on Saturday.

To coincide with the family-friendly mission, MCAC has had since its first program in 1997, tickets remain affordable so you can bring the whole gang. Tonight is ‘Thrifty Thursday,’ where all tickets are just $5. For the other three shows, students and seniors remain at the $5 mark, while adults are just $10.

The reason for these low prices is “The Wizard of Oz” is a show that generations should see together. No matter the age, almost everyone has a memory of watching this timeless classic.

For me, as long as I can remember I have loved “The Wizard of Oz.” It is one of the reasons I became drawn to musical theatre — the characters, costumes, scenery, suspense, perseverance, triumphs.

It was my first opportunity to hear Judy Garland sing. Her emotionally-clear tone singing in “Over the Rainbow” got me hooked to watch some of her other musicals like “Easter Parade.” She remains one of my favorites.

I dabble in impersonations – some good, some just the opposite. Some of my first attempts were of the Cowardly Lion (“Put ‘em up, put ‘em up”) and the Emerald City Guard’s (“Who rang that bell?”).

This show has allowed me to be a proud dad once again as my youngest son, Reid, has his first on-stage lines as the Munchkin Barrister. There are several other parents in this show who will have the unforgettable feeling of sharing the stage with their family members.

Madison County Arts Council is about having these adventures as family and friends both performing and in the audience. No one has exemplified this more than Vicki Arnold.

A tremendous choreographer, singer, dancer and actor – Vicki added so much to the stage. Over time it became a family event as her husband, Don, and their kids, Abby and Ben, would all be involved in some capacity.

I have had the good fortune to meet some great people and make some lifelong friends through MCAC, and Vicki was one of the best.

In many ways she exemplified “The Wizard of Oz” – displaying an almost-perfect singing voice ala Judy Garland, sharing her knowledge of dance with others, showing courage as she battled cancer, and allowing our hearts to break a little as she gracefully passed away in January.

The stage was Vicki’s home.

The Madison County Arts Council family is honoring her with this production of “The Wizard of Oz” this weekend.

Please join us. It is something our MCAC family will never forget. Help make it a special memory for your family, as well.

Jeff Gates is the founder of the Madison County Arts Council.

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