Ashland University Theatre Announces Open Auditions for ‘The Wizard Of Oz’

Ashland University Theatre Announces Open Auditions for ‘The Wizard Of Oz’

8/15/14 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University Department of Theatre announced it will hold open auditions for its upcoming production of the classic and beloved musical “The Wizard of Oz,” directed by guest director Bob Russell with musical direction by Dr. Ron Blackley.

Auditions for community and youth ages 10 years and older will be held in Hugo Young Theatre on Wednesday, Sept. 3, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 7, from 1 to 3 p.m. Rehearsals for the production will begin Jan. 4, 2015, and performances are scheduled for Feb. 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 15 at 2 p.m.

Auditionees should reserve a specific five-minute audition slot during the times listed above by emailing Each auditionee should prepare 16 bars of a song prepared in the style of the show, or from the show. A song can also be provided for those who don't have one. An accompanist will be provided. 

Show director Bob Russell is a professional actor, director and educator. Russell is an adjunct faculty member with the theatre departments at Ashland University and Kent State University, and a master faculty with the Hathaway Brown Theatre Institute (HBTI).

He previously taught with Allegheny College and the Fairmount Performing Arts Conservatory (FPAC). Additionally, Russell is a member of Actor's Equity Association. He has professionally acted and directed regionally in the Northeastern Ohio and Northwestern Pennsylvania areas. Some of his previous acting credits include “My Fair Lady” (Henry Higgins); “Sweeney Todd” (The Beadle); “Twelfth Night” (Malvolio); “Peter Pan” (Mr. Darling/Captain Hook); “Oliver!” (Bill Sykes); and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Nick Bottom).

Some of his previous directing credits include the revivals of “No Mother to Guide” and “Bunco in Arizona”; both turn-of-the-century melodramas, as well as productions of “Comfort Me with Peaches” (world premiere), “My Fair Lady,” “Dead Man's Cell Phone,” “Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe,” “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” “The Sound of Music” and “Jekyll & Hyde.”

Music Director Ron Blackley is professor of music and director of choral activities at Ashland University, where he conducts the university choir, chamber singers and founded the Ashland Area Chorus. He supervises all aspects of the choral program and teaches in the areas of conducting and music education. While he deals primarily with choral groups now, Blackley has conducted numerous orchestras and bands throughout his career. He co-directs the major opera workshop productions and has served as conductor and music director for several Ashland University theatrical productions.

Prior to his appointment at Ashland University, Blackley taught and conducted at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, Lindsey Wilson College, Kent State University and high schools in Ohio and Colorado. A graduate of Concordia College, N.Y., Blackley received his Master of Music from Kent State University and his Doctor of Musical Arts in the literature and performance of choral music from the University of Colorado at Boulder. An accomplished organist, he currently serves Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ashland, Ohio, and is an associate of the American Guild of Organists.

For more information, email, call 419.289.5950, or visit AU Theatre online at or

Ashland University, which has been ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###