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Local Performers Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Millbrae actors take on munchkins, woodland creatures and the Emerald City.

Lions and tigers and local actors, oh my! Beginning Friday, more than 75 performers from across the Peninsula—including Millbrae—will take the stage for a two-week run of the classic Wizard of Oz.

The 21st main stage production of the Pied Piper Players, an 11-year-old, family-based community theater group, the show promises to have its own unique twists and turns.

“One of the issues we’ve had with this show is it’s very iconic,” said Producer Vivian Polishuk. “[Our director, Leslie Stupple] is an original and she doesn’t like to do anything the way it’s been done before…Our show will be a little bit different.”

The cast has been rehearsing since September for opening night, which takes place November 9 at San Mateo’s Bayside Performing Arts Center.

While the cast members average age falls in the 10 to 11 range, six or seven of the performers are adults, and every child’s family is in some way involved, whether through helping with props, set design, selling tickets, or any other task necessary for pulling off the show.

Polishuk herself got involved with Pied Piper Players with her family.

“My son was in the very first Pied Piper show,” she said.

Although her son has move on from Pied Piper, Polishuk still enjoys being involved, and noted that many alumni return to help out with the productions, whether as crew members or as the vocal director.

“I really love what this organization is all about,” she said.

In addition to the six scheduled shows, the performers will also put on a school show next Friday. Pied Piper invites students from local schools who might not otherwise get exposed to theater to see the production.

Polishuk’s time as a Pied Piper producer has allowed her to see the power theater can have on children.

“I love seeing the kids start, kids whose parents signed them up…a few years later they’re on stage in lead roles,” she said. “[The best part] is watching the growth.”

 

Wizard of Oz show times are Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 10 at 2 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and children under 17. Call 650-992-7433 or visit www.piedpiperplayers.org to purchase tickets.

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