BOYERTOWN — The marquee at the State Theatre spoke to the success of the return of the Talisman Players on Feb. 2 and 3 with the posting of "SOLD OUT."
More than 400 people — from toddlers to Red Hat Ladies from Pottstown — were spellbound and thrilled to enjoy the two performances of the timeless classic, "The Wizard of Oz."
The Talisman Players, from Kutztown, previously performed "Pinocchio" at the State Theatre and were anxious to return to Boyertown.
The lead performers, Megan Laudenslager as Dorothy; Crede Cooper as Scarecrow; Greg Setliff as Tinman and Alexander Garcis as Toto joined by a talented supporting cast took the audience on an imaginary journey to the Land of Oz.
“The performance was magnificent, the cast members were flawless in their roles and it was a wonderful experience for all attending,” said one person as she left the theater.
Another young mother said, “This was so special for my children. With so much entertainment being video games and TV, having them see live actors and actresses is so special and meaningful to them. I am sure they will be singing the songs and acting the parts at home tonight.”
Several of the main characters were asked for comments.
“This show had this magic around it. 'The Wizard of Oz' is such a special story. It is a timeless tale, it really is, and it’s something special to a lot of people," said Crete Cooper, who played the Scarecrow.”
Greg Setliff, who played the Tin Man, added, “Theater is transformative. Even though they’re here seeing a story which most of them already know by heart, the experience is something that they can take away, It’s something special that we’re building right here, we can share it with them, they can take it home, and they can think about it for a long time.”
Meagan Laudenslager, in the Judy Garland role of Dorothy, captured the attention and hearts of the audience in the first scene with her clear voice and stage presence singing the most well known song of the show, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”
Meagan, who made every young girl in the audience wanting to be Dorothy, later said in a note to State Theatre President Charles Haddad, “Thank you again so much for supporting Talisman and for welcoming us into your theater. This weekend was one I’ll remember for a long time. We can’t wait to come back.”
Judging from the audience reaction, the audience and staff of the State Theatre will be most anxious to have the Talisman Players return to the State Theatre.
Shannon Anthony, the State Theatre manager, was engaged in all aspects of the show from distributing presold tickets, keeping the popcorn and soda flowing at concessions and telling disappointed people, “We are sold out.”
Anthony said, “It was a challenge but so rewarding to see so many happy children and hear so many 'thank you's' as the audience left the theater for the free lunch and Meet The Cast next door at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. The cast members were so friendly as they made themselves available to pose with so many children as their parents took pictures with Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Lion and Munchkins.”
Having live stage shows for children is one part of the theater's 2019 initiative "The State Theatre, More Than Movies."
“Additional 2019 events being planned are a six-week Summer Camp Kids Movies; Teen Premier Movie Nights with Pizza; A Classic Movie Program the 4th Sunday of the month starting in March; A program of making the theatre available to non-profits for special events; as well as birthday parties and other special uses the theatre has experience since opening in 2017,” said Anthony.
Haddad said, “The 2019 initiative of the State Theatre is made possible by a grant from the Boyertown Area Charitable Giving Fund of the Berks County Community Foundation.”
Tom Nardone, who founded The Talisman Players, more than 30 years ago in New York City and now directs The Talisman Players with his daughters Christine and Brandi, added in the Playbill, “Welcome to the Talisman Players production of 'The Wizard of Oz.' I’m sure I am only one of countless individuals who include this story as among their favorite childhood memories and this is the Talisman chance for all of us to relive it again.”
In a message to Haddad a day after the performances, Nardone said, “More and more people, especially children, must experience quality 'live' theater. We have to find ways to keep the arts, an all forms alive and well and that is why what Boyertown State Theatre is doing with their “More Than Just Movies” project is so wonderful and should be applauded and replicated! Bravo…Bravo…Bravo!”