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Broadway Kids Camp prepares for Wizard of Oz performance

The community is invited to follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Turnage Theatre next Saturday, July 28, as the Arts of the Pamlico Broadway Kids Camp presents two performances of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Telling the classic tale of Dorothy, Toto and friends as they embark on a journey to meet the wonderful Wizard of Oz, the production will be the result of three weeks of hard work by a talented cast of local kids ranging in age from six to 16.

While memorizing and executing lines, lyrics, choreography and blocking can be a challenge for any stage actor, “Oz” Director Dylan Ritch has seen his cast push themselves to make the production the best it can be.

“These children work very hard,” Ritch said. “The very first day we were doing rehearsals, they walked in the door, went to the stage, did a few exercises and started practicing the songs. They’re very committed.”

Ritch is a veteran director of the Broadway Kids Camp. In recent summers, he has led young people in productions of “Cinderella” and “The Jungle Book.” In addition to his work with this program, Ritch has also directed childrens shows elsewhere, and works as an elementary theater teacher in Greenville.

I’LL GET YOU MY PRETTY: Ava Tant, playing the role of the Wicked Witch of the West, threatens Dorothy with vengeance, demanding the return of her ruby slippers. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

“When it comes down to it, the arts are not only a place where children learn to express themselves and learn to value their own voice,” Ritch said. “It’s a place where collaboration happens. Some of these kids have never met each other before and they’re working together on a project. That skill is something every adult needs, and I think that’s something the arts give them, is a place to explore that.”

Two performances of “The Wizard of Oz” will take place next Saturday, one at 2:30 p.m. and one at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available online with a credit card for $7, or for $5 cash at the door.

“The Wizard of Oz is a great show,” Ritch said. “It’s a good story about a young woman who, in the course of an hour, matures before your eyes.”

Bringing a second children’s classic to life, the Broadway Kids Camp will present The Little Mermaid Jr. on Aug. 18. As a way of ensuring that all of the community’s young people can participate, Arts of the Pamlico offers art scholarships through its program “On Robin’s Wings.” For more information on upcoming productions, and ways to get a child involved, call 252-946-2504.

In addition to the Broadway Kids Camp, Arts of the Pamlico will continue theater opportunities for kids into the fall with Bubblegum Theatre. Pre-registration is available for the program’s first production, a Halloween Spooktacular on Oct. 26. For more information, visit www.artsofthepamlico.org