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20 young actors to be cast in Broadway-bound 'Oz' show

Twenty young actors will have the chance to audition later this year for a Broadway-bound prodction that will have its world premiere at the Flat Rock Playhouse.

The Playhouse was chosen by the new musical Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz to be the developmental house for the world premiere. Conceived and produced by New York City based producer Tina Marie Casamento Libby, Chasing Rainbows chronicles the life of a young Judy Garland and explores the extraordinary journey to stardom that culminated in one of the most popular films of all time, The Wizard of Oz. Developed at Goodspeed Musicals Johnny Mercer Colony in Connecticut, the show had a New York City "table read" followed by a 13-day developmental workshop at Belmont University in Nashville. A very successful AEA Staged Reading of the musical was also produced at New World Stages in New York City in September 2014. After the Flat Rock Playhouse production, Chasing Rainbows will then transfer to another leading regional theatre for a pre-Broadway tryout before its New York City bow, the Playhouse said in a news release.

Chasing Rainbows, is written by Mark Acito (Allegiance, Room With a View) and will be directed by Jeff Whiting. Whiting’s credits include direction/choreography for the national tours of Scottsboro Boys and Young Frankenstein as well as the international tours of Rent, Hairspray and The Color Purple. As an associate, Whiting worked on the Broadway productions of Scottsboro Boys, Hair, Young Frankenstein and Wicked and the West End production of Jersey Boys.

Whiting plans to cast 20 local youth in the production to act alongside professional actors brought in from New York. The production team will also be using local youth who wish to learn more about the creative process as assistants to the production staff. Auditions and more information will be announced at a later date. Whether the local young actors go on to performances at the next regional theater or Broadway "is something that would be totally up to the producers," said Dane Whitlock, the marketing director of the Playhouse. “I think if the producers found someone here that they really really liked I think that is a possibility."

Chasing Rainbows will feature such songs as “Over the Rainbow,” “I Can't Give You Anything But Love” and “Broadway Rhythm” which have been reconceived by pianist/composer/arranger David Libby in a revelatory, contemporary sound. In addition to signature Garland songs, Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz incorporates songs from the MGM era culled from the Sony Feist/Robbins Catalog.

Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz is a family friendly musical with an inspiring message of hope and optimism,” said Lisa K. Bryant, Artistic Director for Flat Rock Playhouse. “To be the first venue to premiere Chasing Rainbows is a fantastic opportunity for Flat Rock Playhouse – great exposure for the State Theatre of North Carolina to a wide audience of highly respected and influential industry leaders.”

The show will run at the Playhouse Mainstage Nov. 27-Dec. 19, replacing Oliver! in the 2015  lineup. Patrons who have already purchased tickets to Oliver! will be called by the Box Office directly and given the opportunity to transfer the seats they have already purchased to Chasing Rainbows.

“We opened our 2015 season with a sold out run of Wizard of Oz," Bryant said. "Bookending it with the early life of the beloved icon Judy Garland, as well as working in concert with the wonderful creative team of Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz, was simply too good to resist. We trust the community will agree.”