Royal Winnipeg Ballet: HERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME; CANADIAN PREMIERE OF THE WIZARD OF OZ TAKES WINNIPEG BY STORM - RWB's season of mainstage performances ends in the Emerald City, May 1 - 5

WINNIPEG—April 8, 2019. It's time to see the Wizard! The Wizard of Oz, a million-dollar co-production betweenKansas City Ballet, Colorado Ballet, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) will make its highly anticipatedCanadian premiere at the Centennial Concert Hall from May 1-5 as the classic tale is brought to life through the RWB. Choreographer Septime Webre's vivid retelling of Frank L. Baum's beloved story of family, friendship, and courage sold out performances in the US and is expected to do so in Winnipeg.

This production is filled with all the familiarity of the classic movie – Dorothy and Toto's landing in Oz, joining forces with three unlikely heroes, traveling to the Emerald City to see the Wizard, and their triumph over the Wicked Witch– yet realized with a bold, new spectacle of music, costumes, sets, projections, and special effects.

"The Wizard of Oz looms large in our collective psyches. Its vivid characters, sense of over-the-top whimsy, and spirit of adventure are beyond captivating- it's a kinetic tale which begs to be danced," said Webre. "It's been a terrific project to work on, with a dream team of collaborators, and three excellent companies of dancers with whom I've developed material; it's been exciting to see this iconic tale take on a new life!"

The Wizard of Oz has been in the works for the past two years and required a collaborative team of 120, not including dancers, to bring Webre's vision to life. The musical score, composed by Matthew Pierce, is 471 pages long and features three percussion players playing 35 different percussion instruments, one of those being a wind machine. Conductor Julian Pellicano will lead the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra through Pierce's score.

Set designer Michael B. Raiford created the set to give the feeling of looking down into a tornado. Trad A. Burns, lighting designer, created an environment where 300 light cues take place using over 1,000 channels of lights. Puppet designer Nicholas Mahon created nearly 20 puppets, including a mechanical Toto. The RWB Wardrobe Department spent nearly 7,000 hours in total building costume designer Liz Vandal's The Wizard of Oz costumes in-house. There are nearly 200 costumes, with headpieces alone costing around $50,000.

"The boundless talent of The Wizard of Oz creative team took my breath away- this is Oz like you've never seen before," said RWB Artistic Director and CEO André Lewis. "The design team created the perfect canvas for the RWB and RWB School dancers to immerse audiences in the famed tale. The 'wow factor' of this ballet is astonishing; you truly must see it to believe it."

The Wizard of Oz has been made possible in part by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council,the Winnipeg Arts Council, Presenting Sponsor BMO, Live Music Benefactor The Asper Foundation, and created with generous support of The Estate of Barbara Cook.

"We have a longstanding partnership with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and are pleased to continue our support to one of the country's most acclaimed ballet companies," said John MacAulay, Regional President of the Prairies and Northwest Territories Division at the Bank of Montreal. "There is so much talent within Canadian performing arts, and the RWB specifically, so we are excited to help showcase that to the Winnipeg community with the Canadian premiere of The Wizard of Oz. "

The Wizard of Oz events:

The Making of a Ballet: Before the curtain rises, RWB's Associate Artistic Director Tara Birtwhistle will host an educational, insightful behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Wizard of Oz ballet at 7 PM on Thursday, April 25. Meet some of the creative minds behind the choreography, costumes, and sets. This Mc Nally Community Classroom event is sure to pique the interest of anyone curious about the performing arts. More info found at: https://www.mcnallyrobinson.com/classes.

Pre-show Chats: Join the RWB thirty minutes prior to each performance at the Centennial Concert Hall for a chat between RWB artistic staff and local media. Admission is free with The Wizard of Oz ticket.

Meet the Dancers: RWB dancers will be available for photos and to sign autographs on May 2 and 4 immediately following the performance.

Backstage Tour: Join the RWB for an intimate look at the exciting world of dance behind the scenes on May 1 and 3 following the performance. Tickets to the tour are free, but limited, and available at intermission.

More event information can be found at rwb.org leading up to the performance.

CALENDAR LISTING:

What: The Wizard of Oz

Location: Centennial Concert Hall, 555 Main Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Date: Wednesday, May 1 to Sunday, May 5, 2019

Time: 7:30 pm May 1, 2, 3, 4; matinee at 2 pm on May 5

Tickets: Children's tickets are $25 with adult tickets starting at just $30. Tickets can be purchased www.rwb.org, in person through the RWB Customer Service Office at 380 Graham Avenue or by calling 204-956-2792 or toll free 1-800-667-4792. Groups of ten or more should contact the RWB Customer Service Office for more information on group discounts. Please note that the RWB does not sell tickets through any third-party websites.

CREATIVE TEAM:

Choreographer: Septime Webre

Composer: Matthew Pierce

Set Designer: Michael B. Raiford

Costume Designer: Liz Vandal

Lighting Designer: Trad A. Burns

Puppet Design: Nicholas Mahon

Video Design: Aaron Rhyne

Storyline and visual element from the MGM Motion Picture The Wizard of Oz provided by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures.

"A visually spectacular, elegantly choreographed, expertly designed, surprisingly poignant retelling of the L. Frank Baum classic book." - ROBERT TRUSSELL, KC STUDIO, 2018 (KANSAS CITY BALLET)

"The costumes and set design—especially that of Emerald City—are total eye candy. The on-screen visual and lighting effects work seamlessly with the actors on stage, creating an overall cinematic feel."- BRANDON TIETZ, IN KANSAS CITY, 2018 (KANSAS CITY BALLET)

"This show has more than enough spectacle to warrant the cost of admission ... Wow factor aside, there seems to be no aspect of Webre's version of Oz that isn't handled with the utmost care." - BRANDON TIETZ, IN KANSAS CITY, 2018 (KANSAS CITY BALLET)

"Webre's iteration of Oz is the fresh take we've been waiting for. Heartfelt, adventurous, and with plenty of shock and awe. Diehard fans and those passively familiar with the source material are in for a treat." - BRANDON TIETZ, IN KANSAS CITY, 2018 (KANSAS CITY BALLET)

"This was simply great theatre as well as flamboyantly-told narrative ballet, and inclusive to all." - HILARY STROH, BACHTRACK, 2018 (KANSAS CITY BALLET)

"Webre's best recent ballet, and one, I suspect, that will charm ballet goers." - HILARY STROH, BACHTRACK, 2018 (KANSAS CITY BALLET)

AboutThe Royal Winnipeg Ballet
Founded in 1939, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet holds the double distinction of being Canada's premier ballet company and one of the oldest ballet companies in North America. Under the artistic direction of André Lewis, versatility, technical excellence and a captivating style are the trademarks of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, qualities that have garnered both critical and audience acclaim. RWB's superlative standards keep the Company in demand across North America. In addition to the Company, the RWB is home to the RWB School, consisting of both a professional division which trains young artists for a professional career in dance, and a recreational division which provides classes to over 1,500 students each week.