Four Questions for Two “Wizard of Oz” Ensemble Members

Beth Fhaner
 | Aug 14, 2019
Kid actors from Wizard of Oz

Caitlyn Yu and Preston Veravanich in rehearsal for The Wizard of Oz.

With the Summer Players production of The Wizard of Oz (Argyros Stage, Aug. 10-11, 17-18), in full swing, it’s been a highly creative and exciting time around here. We recently caught up with actors Preston Veravanich and Caitlyn Yu, ensemble members in Oz, to give us the scoop on what they love about being a part of this spectacular show, which features all advanced students in SCR’s Theatre Conservatory.

Tell us about the characters you portray.

Veravanich: In our show, I portray many characters as a member of the ensemble. I play a Crow, an Osian [a resident of the city of Oz], a Winkie and a Snowflake. My favorite character by far is the Crow, but all characters have been a blast to play so far. 

Yu: Since I am a member of the ensemble, I portray several characters in Oz. These characters include a Munchkin (who represents the Lullaby League), an Osian manicurist and a ghost. Each of my characters introduce Dorothy (and Toto) to the various locations found in the Land of Oz.

What do you love most about working on The Wizard of Oz? And what has been most challenging?

Yu: Since I have the opportunity of portraying several characters in The Wizard of Oz, I find distinguishing between my characters a bit complicated. For example, finding the differences in how my Osian character reacts to a significant object or person compared to my Munchkin character can be difficult. However, this is also one of my favorite parts of being in this show; I am able to explore my characters and find the differences and similarities between them that ultimately make them real people/beings in the story. This, along with several other aspects of being in SCR’s production of The Wizard of Oz, allows me to enjoy telling such a beautiful story with my friends.

Veravanich: The thing that I love the most about being in this amazing show is the sense of professionalism that comes with it. Every time that I enter the Julianne Argyros Stage, I’m blown away by just how complex and impressive our set and our space is overall. The most challenging thing, for me, has been living as my characters, as strange as it may sound. Whenever I am a part of a show, my mind is so filled with what comes next in terms of notes and choreography and lines that I often forget that I am a person living in that moment. In other words, living in the present as opposed to living in the past or the future has been my biggest obstacle. 

What do you enjoy most about working with/learning from director Hisa Takakuwa and musical director Erin McNally?

Yu: Hisa and Erin focus on the importance of process versus product by teaching you about the how’s and why’s in relation to doing something instead of simply telling you what to do. I also love working with Hisa and Erin because they let you grow as an individual by letting you do the work. They are a significant part of your growing process, but they give you the freedom to grow by encouraging you to take risks, ask questions and find answers.

Veravanich: Hisa and Erin have been a large part of my life for a very long time. I am so grateful to have known them for as long as I have, and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had them as teachers. The favorite thing that I have learned from Hisa and Erin is the importance of togetherness. Everything that I know about acting has come from others, and Hisa and Erin both taught me to open my eyes towards the many things that my fellow castmates have to offer me and what I have to offer to them. 

How are you using what you learned in your acting classes here to help you in this show?

Veravanich: My acting classes laid the groundwork for all that I am able to do in the show. Many people don’t realize just how complicated a process acting is; each tier of acting is built upon the lessons learned in the last class. Theatre truly is life with all the dull parts cut out, as Alfred Hitchcock once said. The lesson that had to be reiterated to me the most was the importance of the ensemble. I was quite shy when I first entered the world of theatre and it took at least two years for me to break out of my shell. Thanks to all of my amazing teachers, I was able to realize how I could deepen my work onstage if I connected with my fellow actors that are onstage with me. 

Yu: The acting classes at SCR focus on building characters by exploring their relationships and intentions in relation to where they are in their story. These classes give us the tools we need to build a story with characters ​who have their own unique traits so that we are prepared to perform our best in a show or ensemble, such as Summer Players. SCR’s acting classes have taught me how to succeed in this show by helping me animate my characters, which contributes to the overall show.  

Learn more about The Wizard of Oz and buy tickets.