Flying monkeys, wicked witches and a young Kansas girl named Dorothy Gale will soon make an appearance in Newton.

 

Ballet Wichita will present a production of "The Wizard of Oz" at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at the bandshell in Athletic Park, 700 W. First St.

 

"Ballet in the Park is a series we offer to communities in the area," said Cindy Bailey, production director at Ballet Wichita. "They rehearse the show and then we literally pack a truck and travel from community to community."

 

Ballet Wichita's "The Wizard of Oz" is a 30-minute version of the story presented at no cost to attendees.

 

"It's a nice, fun evening for the family. Bring your lawn chairs, coolers and blankets and enjoy an evening in the park in the nice weather," Bailey said.

 

Rather than the formal atmosphere of a concert hall, presenting ballet in city parks offers audiences a chance to take in the production in a more informal and relaxed setting. Bailey said "The Wizard of Oz" has attracted people of all ages, many of whom are fans of the classic movie.

 

"It's really fun because the little kids will come in costume," Bailey said. "It's so fun to watch them standing there in the audience and dancing with the dancers."

 

With backdrops evoking both rural Kansas and the fantastical land of Oz, "The Wizard of Oz" features dancers in full costumes and makeup who are college age or younger.

 

"We have a cast of about 40," Bailey said.

 

One of those cast members is soloist Kaylee Donohue, who dances in the role of the Scarecrow.

 

"It's a really neat experience," Donohue said. "I like it because you get to dance really close to the audience."

 

Her favorite members of the audience are the children who become so engaged in the story that they unashamedly gasp in fear or laugh with joy.

 

"I like performing in front of the kids, because they're not scared to respond to what's happening," Donohue said.

 

Donohue is currently attending Wichita State University, where she is majoring in nursing and minoring in dance.

 

"I like showing people how dance is a great art form," Donohue said. "It's great to inspire the next generation of dancers."

 

Ballet Wichita holds auditions for dancers each fall.

 

"If they're accepted into the company, they perform in 'Nutcracker' and then we select dancers for other (shows) as they come up," Bailey said.

 

The Newton performance of Ballet Wichita's "The Wizard of Oz" is sponsored by Layman's Antiques, The Hair Cutting Company, First Bank of Newton, 701 Cafe, Hendrickson Chiropractic, Faith and Life Christian Bookstore, Charlotte's Sew Natural and Gurty's Burgers and Shakes.

 

For more information about Ballet Wichita, visit https://balletwichita.com or call 316-687-5880.