St. Cloud State ties help audiences follow the yellow brick road

Friday, March 30, 2012

Christian Arias

Christian Arias

Christian Arias Danielle Simbo 

GREAT Theatre’s production of “The Wiz,” which ran from Oct. 15-30 in St. Cloud, had a strong St. Cloud State University influence. Students, faculty and alumni were among the cast, choir and behind-the-scenes action.

Casey Schmoll ’11, Lake Lillian, who played the scarecrow; and Nick Benner, a freshman from St. Cloud and member of the chorus, have performed with St. Cloud’s GREAT Theatre in several productions. The rest of the cast from St. Cloud State were performing with GREAT for the first time.

Those included: Guy Armel Gahungu (Tin Man), a freshman from Burundi; Christian Arias (Lion), a sophomore from Melrose; Danielle Simbo (Evillene), a freshman from Brooklyn Park; and Steph Bates (chorus), a sophomore from Champlin. The show was choreographed by Debra Leigh, a faculty member and coordinator of the Community Anti-Racism Education Initiative at St. Cloud State.

The Wiz is based on “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, and is one of Broadway’s most popular contemporary musicals. Dorothy’s adventures in the Land of Oz are set to music in a dazzling mixture of rock, gospel and soul music.

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