"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore...."
- By gentleguide
- On Tue 04 Jul 2017
This weekend sees the premiere of The Wizard of Oz, brought to us by Kata Klysmic Productions. While we're probably all familiar with this classic story, it's going to be told in a whole new way, changing everything you know about this traditional tale, starting this weekend at The Garden Nightclub. But that's what Kata Klysmic does... brings about change.
Artistic Director Nick Amundsen and Production Manager and Director Dakota Rachuy are bringing a very different version of The Wizard of Oz to Des Moines, and if you thought Dorothy's world view is radically altered going from Kansas to Oz, you haven't seen anything yet.
While the traditional story and songs are still there (including Over the Rainbow and all the rest), Kata Klysmic has completely revamped the look and the feel of the show. They've added glitter, glamour, and, while keeping the script and story the same, have changed some of the casting and scene choices into something much more adult, much more outrageous, and much more... well, just MORE.
Says Rachuy about the show, "I actually came up with this off-kilter version of Wizard of Oz while seeing a children's production. I saw it and said, this could be amazing. We just need more glitter."
Oz, but not the Oz you know
"This is definitely not the Wizard of Oz you are used to. There is definitely some explicit content, and pretty revealing costuming. We have done our best to take Oz, and recreate it in a nightclub atmosphere."
So, with so many changes to something people know so well, how do you approach such a subject? I asked Dakota what can he really do within a specific and well-known structure such as The Wizard of Oz.
"This show definitely brought with it many challenges, but that is what made this experience so exciting as a director. And a first-time director at that. Without changing the lines, we've had to tell an almost completely different story. So finding ways to recreate the characters, the scenic elements, and some of the themes while keeping the same dialogue was a fun challenge that my actors have excelled at. Finding ways to emphasize different words, or do things physically in order to tell the story in a unique and relevant way."
Our own Yellow Brick Road
I've heard Kata Klysmic Productions described as "the most subversive theatre group in Des Moines." The group loves to put their own unique spin on everything they do, and purposely choose material that serves that goal. Nick Amundsen said in a recent interview that "The definition of 'cataclysmic' is 'to bring about change', and what we do is take a show and change it into something completely different." If there was ever an appropriate mission statement for a local theatre group, this one fits amazingly well.
"The company has really become a collaborative effort," says Dakota. "Our organization strives to really bring a full range of diversity to the stage in our shows, cast, and audience members. We also want to bring theatre to those who may not normally go out looking for it. Let them experience a type of theatre that may not be as well known."
"Kata Klysmic is special because we do things our own way. I don't think we had as much of a challenge subverting expectations, because when Kata Klysmic announces they are doing Wizard of Oz, you just kind of know to expect the unexpected."
This type of thing is clear just in the choices of their productions. They brought Reefer Madness-the Musical to The Garden last season, and later this summer will see a production of The Vagina Monologues. Plus, Kata Klysmic now has the rights to do an annual production of the stage version of The Rocky Horror Show at Halloween, reprising their hit musical from last fall.
Kata Klysmic Productions does things here in Des Moines that no one else does, and does them with a style, glee, and willful abandon that really strikes to the heart of what joy and the creation of fun theatre can aspire to. And by changing a show, you can change a point of view, change a mind, change a heart... and that's really Kata Klysmic... to bring about change.
Kata Klysmic Productions presents The Wizard of Oz at The Garden Nightclub beginning July 7th for two weekends. Evening shows (Fri/Sat, then Thu/Fri/Sat the second weekend) are at 7:30pm and are for 21 and older. Sun matinees are at 4:30pm both weekends, and are more 'child-friendly', but this is a nightclub so it's probably not a show for toddlers, fair warning. Tickets are available through www.midwestix.com, under listings for The Garden Nightclub.