Oak Park actress finds theater magic in ‘Oz’
Dara Cameron of Oak Park plays Dorothy in Drury Lane's "The Wizard of Oz." | Photo by Michael Brosilow
‘The Wizard of Oz’
Drury Lane Theatre Theatre for Young Adults, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace
Through June 16 at 10 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday (excludes June 6-7, June 13-14). Performances at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. May 12, 19 and 26, and June 16.
Tickets are $12. A breakfast buffet with the cast is offered May 12, 19 and 26, and June 16 at 11:30 a.m., with the performance at 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. Breakfast buffet package price is $25 for adults; $22 for children 12 and under.
For reservations, call (630) 530-0111 or visit www.drurylaneoakbrook.com
Updated: May 13, 2012 12:25PM
For Dara Cameron of Oak Park and Rob Rahn of Lincolnshire, now appearing in Drury Lane’s Theatre for Young Adults “The Wizard of Oz,” this is not the first time over the rainbow. Nor is it their first time in the show together.
Cameron portrayed Kansas girl Dorothy Gale five times dating back to high school. Rahn portrayed Uncle Henry in another Marriott Theatre production opposite her. But neither has lost their sense of wonder at the musical that has transported generations, and for many children, is their introduction to live theater.
The classic 1939 movie starring Judy Garland, ranked by the American Film Institute as the third greatest musical of all time, is the gold standard by which all family films (and wicked witches) are judged. For four decades, the movie, aired only once a year on broadcast networks, was a family viewing tradition.
Cameron, in her 20s, missed out on that. She came of age in the era of home video and basic cable. “But I loved listening to my mom’s stories of how much it meant to her watching it with her family when she was a little girl,” the Oak Park resident said.
Rahn, 60, who lives in Lincolnshire, did watch it with his family, but they did not own a color television. He would not witness the film’s glorious burst into color until he went to college.
The Drury Lane production, directed by multi-Jeff Award-winner Rachel Rockwell, is an age-appropriate “not too scary” one-hour and, save for the Cowardly Lion’s “If I Were King of the Forest,” features the iconic score’s most beloved songs.
For both actors, it’s the children in the audience who keep the experience fresh for them. “I love doing theater for children,” Rahn said. “and what I love most is that children are honest. You don’t have to play down to them or add gratuitous slapstick. If you are telling a good story, they will pay attention. If you’re not, they will start talking to the person next to them.”
And few stories resonate like “The Wizard of Oz.” “I remember what it felt like to be 13 and feel like it’s you and your dog against the world,” Cameron said.
The musical’s lesson about the importance of family, friends and home are universal, Rahn added. Throughout his life, he joked, he could identify with having doubts over whether he had the brain, the heart or the courage to succeed in life. The musical, he said, reinforces that “all those things are within yourself. All you have to do is believe.”
One of the most fun things about doing “The Wizard of Oz,” both said, is the Q&A with the children that follows each performance.
“We get such great questions,” Cameron said, “such as ‘Why does Dorothy come home if she was so happy in Oz?’ I’m often asked what my favorite part of the show is. I tell them that it’s different everyday. That’s the great thing about doing live theater.”
One of Rahn’s favorite questions was from the child who asked, ‘Is the movie over yet?’’
Rahn, a 25-year veteran of Chicago theater, has limited opportunities to tread the boards. He works full time for the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. But children’s theater, he said, is a welcome exception. He grew up in a blue-collar household in the south suburbs with limited exposure to live theater, so “I’m very proud to be in ‘The Wizard of Oz,” he said.
And he hopes parents take advantage of the show. “If you love the movie, this is great opportunity for parents to introduce kids to live theater.”