Pittsburg State University will welcome its third season of the “Best of Broadway” series with the production of “Wizard of Oz” on Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in The Bicknell Family Center for the Arts.
The second and final production in the series will be “The Sound of Music” on March 29, 2019, and Joseph Firman, Bicknell Center director, said the fourth season is in the works.
“Nationally, we have touring groups that do the Broadway performances that travel all around the U.S. and in Canada, and they perform and take these shows on the road,” Firman said. “So this is the same ‘Wizard of Oz’ that you would see in any other major city in the U.S. …So, the national touring Broadway series is designed to do the show just like you would have seen it on Broadway.”
Many people are involved in the productions that take place at PSU, onstage and offstage.
“We were very fortunate to be able to have the support of the administration in bringing Broadway to campus because there’s a large investment that goes into it and it requires the support of the public through buying tickets and the support of CDL to make it work,” Firman said.
When coming to see a show in this series, you should expect “nothing less than Broadway,” according to Firman. The Bicknell Center has equipment allowing them to put on a professional performance experience.
“When you see curtains moving or props moving, some of it’s their professional staff, some of it’s our students …sometimes, we’ll have as many as 100 people backstage simultaneously so the audience never sees them, but they’re all there to make it happen.”
Students play a key role in the process of setting up the production and taking it all down afterward. Firman said on the day of the production, students will be given the opportunity to take on leadership roles where they will be supervising different sections of the building, such as lighting and carpentry.
“The whole concept of having the students involved has been at the root of how we run the building. They’re integral to the entire operation,” Firman said.
The past Best of Broadway series have brought noted shows to campus such as “Mamma Mia,” “Rent,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “42nd Street,” but Firman is particularly excited about this season’s productions.
“…I don’t think you can do much better on just the sense of name recognition than doing the ‘Wizard of Oz’ and ‘The Sound of Music’. They’re some of the iconic Broadway shows.”
The Bicknell Center’s 100-foot wide stage was built to be wider than most stages, Firman said. The backstage storage, green rooms, costume and construction warehouses, and hallways provide spacious accessibility for production crew and performers to get in and out of where they need to be.
“It’s funny because you’ll have the road manager who’s been on the road for six, seven, eight months, and they walk into the building for the first time, they look up and they say ‘This’ll work,’ after they have driven all night to get here, after weeks of doing the show, that’s a high compliment.” Firman said.