Local church celebrates 25 years of musical theater by offering ‘The Wizard of Oz’


“The Wizard of Oz” musical director Kathy Johnson of Arden Hills is also a musician, seen here playing the hammered dulcimer.

Kathy Laur

Special to the Bulletin

 

In its 25th year of putting on musicals, St. Odilia Catholic Church in Shoreview is “off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz!” 

This timeless classic by L. Frank Baum is a favorite among both young and not-so-young readers and movie viewers, and will be taking place at the church Feb. 23-26.

Longtime Arden Hills residents Jeff and Kathy Johnson have dedicated a decade to St. Odilia’s musical ministry and this year Kathy will be the musical director of the fabled story that introduced the characters of Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, Toto and the Wicked Witch of the West, to name a few.

 

About the director & crew

An accomplished musician in her own right, Kathy Johnson performs ancient Celtic and folk tunes on a hammered dulcimer at fairs and festivals each summer, and has participated in musical theater for many years.

She took a break from theater when her son Joe was born 19 years ago, and after three more children followed, Kathy decided to ease back into it. 

Her husband, Jeff, hasn’t performed on stage, but has played an integral role in the behind-the-scenes crew for many years. His specialty is the technical runs during rehearsals and the weekend of the performances. 

Together, the Johnsons believe the intergenerational aspect of St. Odilia musicals is really important. 

“All family members get to participate,” Kathy says. “It gives the kids a sense of importance, and they become invested in the whole production.”  

Kathy went on to say that the children who participate come away with “a sense of community.” 

“Their social relationships build and grow, and they look forward to spending time with all of the people in the musical, young and old alike,” Kathy says, noting the children learn to be “less awkward around adults.” 

“These components are what build community and creating community in the church builds stronger families,” she says.

 

Kids in the mix

St. Odilia’s musicals are not just kid-centered, according to the Johnsons, the musicals are an adult program that happen to have kids in it too. 

With their oldest son Joe off at college, the Johnsons’ three girls — Mairi, Rose and Aine — are all participating in “The Wizard of Oz.”  

Mairi, who has been performing in all of the shows for the last 10 years, will be playing the lead role of Dorothy; Rose is in the crew helping to build and create the sets; and Aine will be the head of the flying monkeys as well as the mayor of Munchkinland. 

Not only is the Johnson family participating in “The Wizard of Oz,” but they’ll have their foreign exchange student Jiui from South Korea working behind the scenes on sets as well. Another foreign exchange student, Mimi Huynh of Vietnam, is acting in the musical.

 

If you go

A final dress rehearsal will take place Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. The cost for this first offering is $5 for all ages. 

The next shows take place Friday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. and Saturday Feb. 25, at 1 p.m. 

On Saturday, Feb. 25, there will also be a dinner theater option at 5:30 p.m., but if attendees don’t want to pay the show-and-dinner combo ticket cost of $35 for adults and $15 for children, they can still see the show at 7 p.m. For more information on the dinner, call Jeanne at 651-483-3329.  

The final show will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26.

There will be reserved seating for all performances, and ticket prices are $12 for adults and $8 for children, students and seniors. 

“The Wizard of Oz” performances will take place at the church, 3495 Victoria St. N., Shoreview, and tickets go on sale Feb. 4 and can be purchased by calling the church at 651-415-3367 or by visiting www.stodilia.org.

 

Kathy Laur is an administrative clerk for the City of North Oaks and a member of St. Odilia Catholic Church.

 

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