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Darien girl readies for a trip to the Emerald City

As it turns out, the dream Grace Cashman dared to dream really has come true.

For the next five weeks, she will fill the shoes of one of literature's and cinema's most well-known characters.

"I was really hoping for Dorothy from the start," said the 15-year-old Darien resident of the audition process leading up to Curtain Call's latest production, "The Wizard of Oz."

Cashman leads a cast of nearly 50 area residents in a musical adaptation of the 1939 classic MGM movie at the nonprofit Stamford theater company.

This is not Cashman's first time on the Curtain Call stage, having previously played the irrepressible young orphan Annie in "Annie" and "Annie Warbucks," and the precocious young girl Lucy in Neil Simon's "The Goodbye Girl."

Most recently, she played Fruma Sarah in "Fiddler on the Roof."

After a run of characters that evidence wisdom beyond their years, Cashman said she is looking forward to observing life with less jaded eyes. Dorothy's naive-yet-adventurous spirit appealed to Cashman.

"I'm excited to be doing something different," she said.

Curtain Call's production is faithful to the movie, according to Lou Ursone, the company's executive director and the show's producer. But there will be some "extras," including the musical number "The Jitterbug" that was cut from the film. This adaptation was done by John Kane in 1987 for the Royal Shakespeare Company, while the movie was based on "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," by L. Frank Baum.

Although this may be a new experience for Cashman, Rob Nichols, of Stamford, returns to play the Cowardly Lion, one of three companions that help Dorothy find her way along the yellow brick road. He had so much fun donning the mane for a previous production that he opted for a return appearance.

"The characters are based on the film, but we put our own touch on it," he said. "I really have the best job. I have one goal, which is to make people laugh, and everybody else does the work."

Ursone said Curtain Call's production can be enjoyed by the entire family, although the Wicked Witch of the West and her henchmen might cast a few shadows over the fun for some.

"It's also a great way to introduce younger audiences to live theater," he said in a recent news release, adding that characters will mingle with the audience after each show.

Cashman said the onstage performers and behind-the-scenes crew are no less of a family, having become a tight-knit community over the past two months of rehearsals -- a bond they will carry over to their five weeks of performances. Read Full Article 

Just as Dorothy's fellow travelers help her to learn about herself, Cashman said she also has been grateful for the support and advice from her fellow cast members during this production and others.

"You learn quickly about the dos and the don'ts," she said.

There also is one thing of which she is certain -- her desire to continue to find opportunities to act, dance and sing on stage.

"I love it," she said. "It's just so much fun."

More Information

Kweskin Theatre at Curtain Call, 1349 Newfield Ave., Stamford. Friday, April 4-Saturday, May 3. Check website for schedule. $29-$14.50. 203-461-6358, ext. 34; www.curtaincallinc.com.

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