When it comes to the casting of The Wizard of Oz at the Omaha Playhouse, no one can doubt the natural fit of Noah Diaz as the Scarecrow. The lanky, deep-voiced, goofy, and talented Diaz took time to talk about the process of bringing the Wizard of Oz to life under the direction of Susie Baer Collins.
On what set this show apart from other interpretations of the classic Oz story:
“There’s the obvious answer: set, costumes, lighting — which are all going to be INCREDIBLE from the looks of it. But I think what really sets this show apart is how we as the cast have made it our own. I want audiences to have felt like they’ve been on the adventure through Oz WITH us. I don’t want them to have simply “watched” the show; I want them to experience it all with us.”
On the rehearsal process:
“It’s been intense for the eight principal characters. We have the tough job of remembering those who came before us while also trying to make the characters our own. How can I make the Scarecrow MY Scarecrow knowing that the audience is going to remember Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow? I think that’s mainly what rehearsals have been about: finding new life in something that isn’t even remotely dead.”
On the challenges of his Scarecrow costume:
“It is without a doubt the most challenging costume I’ve tackled. Between my final Kansas scene as Hunk in the first act and my appearance as the Scarecrow, I have about 8-10 minutes to get into costume. At the end of show, my quick-change from Scarecrow to Hunk is only about 3 minutes. The rest of the show I’m dealing with heat, straw flying everywhere, trying not to smear makeup, dealing with sweat, etc.”
On working with Susie Baer Collins:
“Susie has been a REMARKABLE director. She does a fantastic job of acknowledging the source material… keeping true to the nostalgia that it carries, but also at finding new life in it. The biggest thing Susie has taught me as an actor throughout this process has been to really understand every single word and intention my character says. It’s easy to get lazy with a show like The Wizard of Oz. Sentences are short, there’s easy language, etc. But it’s been outstandingly helpful for Susie to be there to guide me out of the language muck and to help me find the Scarecrow’s true motives and intentions and physicality.
The Wizard of Oz runs May 31st-June 30th at the Omaha Playhouse’s Hawks Mainstage. For tickets, visit www.omahaplayhouse.com
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