Area Community Members Cast in AU’s Production of The Wizard of Oz

Bob Russell, director

ASHLAND, Ohio – With auditions held in August, Ashland University Theatre is buzzing with anticipation for its February production of Frank Baum's beloved musical "The Wizard of Oz."  Not only were thirty University students cast, almost twenty community youth and adults will join the show on the Hugo Young Theatre stage. Canine auditions for Toto are slated for next week to finalize the cast.

Just in time for the holidays and consideration as wonderful gifts, tickets are now on sale at the Ashland University Box Office for the performances slated for February 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m., and February 15 at 2 p.m.

With direction by guest director Bob Russell and musical director Ron Blackley, Professor of Music, sophomore integrated language arts major Ariel McCleary (Stow, Ohio) portrays little Dorothy Gale of Kansas who dreams of what lies over the rainbow. One day a twister hits her farm and carries her away over the rainbow to another world where she is joined by the Scarecrow (Nick Seemann, Bath, Ohio), the Tinman (De'Andre Peterson, Garfield Heights, Ohio), and the Cowardly Lion (Jake Riley, Wooster, Ohio) as they travel the universe of Dorothy’s imagination. They are guided on their travels by Glinda (Marley Lieberman, Cleveland Heights, Ohio) while trying to avoid the Wicked Witch (Andrea Disch, East Liverpool, Ohio). While searching for the Wizard of Oz (Scott Hudson, Assistant Professor of Theatre), they meet several interesting characters including the Emerald City Guard (Deric Dove, Newark, Ohio), the Ozians and the Munchkins.

The Ozians, residents of Oz, are played by Ashland resident Tim Busbey and several university students including Natalyn Baisden, Victoria Flemming, Gracie Fumic, Aida Garcia Castro, Kayla Gowdy, Joseph Guadiz, Phoebe Lammert, Kaelyn Mead, Brooke Morgan, Mary Joyce Myers, Kayleigh Shaw, Ceyanna Stasick, Taylor Stepp, Eryn Reynolds Tramel, Amanda Wise and Katherine Yurkowski.

Led by Luke Blackley as the Mayor of Munchkin City, several area youth portray the Munchkins including Alena Arnold, Wesley Arnold, Haley Barker, Leah DeBracy, Alexia Garber, Melanie Irvine-Selby, Clara Kral, Emily Ludwig, Andrew Pascella, Isabel Rivera, Savannah Shaver, Ellysa Stadler, Delainey William and Sophia Wood.

The production's choreographer is Katie Zarecki, set and projections are designed by Assistant Professor of Theatre and Resident Scenic Designer Jason Coale while Assistant Professor of Theatre and Resident Costume Designer Sarah Russell designed the costumes. Technical Director J. Michael Desper is the sound designer, and junior Fatima Imani Smith (Copley, Ohio) is the show's stage manager.

Single tickets for the performances are: $12 for adult; $10 for senior citizens, AU faculty, staff and alumni; $8 for groups of 10 or more, $5 for non-AU students, and $2 for Ashland University students with ID.  They can be ordered by phone at 419-289-5125, Monday through Friday, 12 noon to 6 p.m., or online anytime at (additional fees apply).  For more information, visit the Web site at or contact Tricia Applegate, coordinator of performing arts publicity and events, at 419-289-5950 or

Ashland University 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. ###