Fowler dancers bringing ‘Wizard of Oz’ to the big screen

The Beth Fowler Dance Company and School of Dance invites the community to partake in an adventure that will take you over the rainbow, and beyond, as they present their latest feature film, “The Wizard of Oz and More.”

And at the same time, the Fowler studios will present a heaping dose of Christmas magic in the dog days of summer, with a special encore presentation of its first film, “The Nutcracker Movie.”

Both movies feature local dancers of all ages from Beth Fowler’s studios in Genoa and St. Charles, dazzling audiences with high-flying presentations of the beloved stories, and more.

“The Wizard of Oz and More” will be screened over four showings in three days: 7 p.m. Friday, July 30; 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, July 31; and 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 1. All showings will be on the big screen at the Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb.

“The Nutcracker Movie” will be screened at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 1, for a special double feature. And following “The Nutcracker” will be a “behind the scenes” look at the making of “The Wizard of Oz and More,” including interviews with more than 30 of the performers and others involved in the making of the film.

Tickets are available through the Egyptian Theatre box office, 815-758-1225, and online at BethFowlerDanceCompany.com.

“Wizard of Oz and More” will use dance, dialogue and daring acrobatics to tell the story of Dorothy, the girl from Kansas, who travels to the magical land of Oz, with her little dog, too, and with the help of three best friends, travels down the Yellow Brick Road, meets the Wonderful Wizard, and then battles the Wicked Witch of the West, to save the Emerald City and all else living in Oz. Yet ultimately, she discovers, there’s no place like home.

The story will include visual effects, thanks to OC Creative of DeKalb as well as real flying characters, including the Wicked Witch; Glinda, the Good Witch of the North; and others, who were lofted above the sound stage, thanks to theatrical effects company, Vertigo.

The movie will also feature elegant selections from the renowned Spanish ballet, “Paquita,” and stunning renditions of the Beth Fowler performing groups’ award-winning dance choreography.

The BFDC’s presentation of “The Wizard of Oz” was staged and choreographed by artistic director Beth Fowler, featuring music from the classic 1939 film adaptation of the novel by author L. Frank Baum.

The Beth Fowler Dance Company was poised to perform “The Wizard of Oz” live in March 2020, yet was forced to shut down the three-day run at the Egyptian Theatre, hours before the curtain was to rise, in response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of Illinois’ mitigations.

Rising to the occasion, Beth Fowler and the team at the Fowler studios partnered with filmmaker Dan Kapper of Kapper Productions to produce not one, but two feature films, to give the dancers the opportunity to still perform safely, in a socially distanced and responsible fashion, even amid a historic pandemic.

“It was so important to come up with a plan that would succeed, from creating the show, to filming, to editing, and, ultimately, to show the finished movie produce on the big movie screen,” Fowler said. “The plan had to succeed at every step, because all of our dance families were counting on us.

“The Nutcracker Movie” was produced in the fall of 2020, and originally screened at the Egyptian Theatre in January 2021.

“The Wizard of Oz and More” was produced in the spring and early summer of 2021, filming at the Egyptian Theatre and Engel Farms in Genoa and Marengo.

Emily Fox of St. Charles played the role of Dorothy. Last March, Fox had been set to dance the part of Glinda in the stage production canceled by COVID. Fox also danced the role of the Snow Queen in “The Nutcracker Movie.”

Abby Lewis of St. Charles takes to the sky on a broomstick, in green, as the Wicked Witch of the West.

Glinda, the Good Witch, is portrayed by Emily Belzey of South Elgin in the version of the film primarily featuring dancers from Fowler’s Genoa studio, while Brooke Bend of St. Charles played Glinda in the version featuring the St. Charles studio’s dancers.

Tallory Wendell of Belvidere and Brooke Baurer of Geneva played the part of the Scarecrow.

Jacob Bliujus of Sycamore and Kamryn King of St. Charles played the Tin Man.

And Hannah Fugiel of Elgin and Mia Herman of St. Charles played the Cowardly Lion.