LEMONT – The Little Mountain Community Theatre will put on its first big production, "The Wizard of Oz," from July 18 to 20.
More than 45 actors of all ages – along with two dogs – will take part in the shows at the Lemont High School Performing Arts Center. Several other people from in and outside of Lemont have also gotten involved working on the sets, costumes and technical aspects of the show.
Artistic Director Heather Hutchison, who has also been the director of recent Lemont High School musicals, said the theater is trying to springboard off the enthusiasm of the high school theater program and expand into the community.
"That's the nature of community theater," she said. "It can't stand alone. It has to build off the energy that is already here – the close-knit energy of Lemont High School."
Recent Lemont High School graduate Ryan Luzzo, who is playing the role of the Scarecrow, said his experience with Little Mountain has been different than with the high school theater department.
"I think they're more care-free," he said. "I'm so used to high school, when all the kids are super stressed. Here, it's all ages. So people have to get along with each other, and they do, which is nice."
Sharon Kociak, a 68-year-old resident of Franciscan Village, is one of the older people involved.
A former teacher and theater instructor, she said she learned about the theater because the show's producer, David Lindley, was one of her students. She said she has not been on the stage in 25 years and wanted to see what she could still do.
Kociak admits she cannot keep up with the younger cast members during the dance scenes.
"I sort of do my own thing while they do their's," she said. "I've created this ditzy munchkin teacher character that's kind of fun."
Grace Chialdikas, who will be a freshman at Lemont High School, is one of the many younger people involved in the show. She said she has been involved in several musicals, but Little Mountain has its benefits.
"It's easier to come here," she said. "There's more people that you live by and you know. So, it's more fun."
Hutchison said a community theater is an outlet for people who want to take a chance on exploring their creative sides.
"There's no higher skills necessary," she said. "It's a desire to help out and be part of it. That, by it's nature, fosters the teamwork and the ownership in the production."
Kociak said the theater is an experience that can draw a community together.
"Whether the people involved know it yet, it will evolve into better communication and understanding between the various age groups," she said.
Hutchison said she hopes the show will also inspire the audience.
"I hope the community can sit back and simply be in awe of what a band of people who didn't really know each other could accomplish in five weeks time with hard work and lots of blood, sweat and tears," she said.
If you go
What: Little Mountain Community Theatre's production of "The Wizard of Oz" When: 7:30 p.m. July 18 and 19 and 2 p.m. July 20 Where: Lemont High School Performing Arts Center, 800 Porter St. Tickets: $15 adults, $12 students and seniors More information: www.littlemountaintheatre.org