Alan Ariano Talks about Representation with His Turn as the First Asian American to Play The Wizard and Professor Marvel in Music Theatre Wichita’s THE WIZARD OF OZ

Alan Ariano and Company in THE WIZARD OF OZ. Photo by hotographed by Kacy Meinecke and Jerry Fritchman

Congratulations to Alan Ariano, who is currently starring as  The Wizard and Professor Marvel in Music Theatre Wichita’s production of The Wizard of Oz. There are two more performances today to see the show – at 2pm and 8pm. Click here for tickets.

Based on the classic MGM movie musical and the book by L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of OZ is directed by Debra Walton, and features musical direction by Jesse Warkentin and choreography by Eric Sciotto.

The Wizard of Oz tells the classic tale of young Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto who are swept away by a tornado from their Kansas farm to the colorful and enchanting Land of Oz. To get back home, Dorothy must first embark on a journey to the Emerald City, where the Wizard of Oz resides. On the way down the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy and her dog are accompanied by three new friends they meet along the way- a Scarecrow who wants a brain, a Tin Man who wants a heart and a Cowardly Lion who wants courage. All on the quest to have their wishes come true, they come across the Wicked Witch of the West out on her own quest for revenge.

Cami Abraham as Dorothy and Alan Ariano as Professor Marvel in THE WIZARD OF OZ. Photographed by: Kacy Meinecke and Jerry Fritchman

In addition to Alan Ariano as The Wizard/Professor Marvel, the principal cast of The Wizard of OZ includes Cami Abraham as Dorothy, Timothy Robu as Cowardly Lion/Zeke, Nathaniel Mahone as Tin Man/Hickory, Brett Cole Young as Scarecrow/Hunk, Jennifer Hampton Marcum as “Auntie Em/Glinda,” Karen Robu as Miss Gultch/Wicked Witch, Steve Hitchcock Jr. as Uncle Henry/Guard, Mary Sue Dymak as Mayor of Munchkin City. Click here for the complete cast and program.

Alan Ariano returns to MTWichita, having performed in the 2013 production of The King and I. His Broadway credits include M. Butterfly, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Shogun, Miss Saigon (1991 Original), The King and I (LCT-Revival), Flower Drum Song (Tour). He starred as the title character in Ma-Yi’s production of Felix Starro Off-Broadway, and also appeared in Letters of Suresh (2nd Stage), Greater Clements (LCT). His TV credits include “Law and Order SVU” (recurring), “FBI: Most Wanted” and more. www.AlanAriano.com.

Director Debra Walton and Alan Ariano.

In a post on Facebook, Alan writes, “𝐑𝐄𝐏𝐑𝐄𝐒𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍 𝐌𝐀𝐓𝐓𝐄𝐑𝐒 I just had to share …
When my director Debra Walton first asked me what I thought about the characters I was playing, Professor Marvel – Wizard, I responded with a few thoughts. My personal thoughts was being grateful as a Filipino American, three years ago Music Theatre Wichita and Wayne Bryan cast me in this role. I don’t know this for a fact but I’m gonna claim to be the first Asian American to play this part in a professional production. I felt this kind of casting in Kansas is a great step for REPRESENTATION and how important that was. I suggested that it would be great if we didn’t ignore this and maybe actually indicate or suggest my culture. Debra couldn’t have been more supportive and excited as I was for this moment. She suggest I think about it and maybe come up with a way to do this. During the middle of our first rehearsal for this scene, I improvised some Tagalog (filipino language) and to my surprise and absolute joy, she said, “keep it”

Alan Ariano as Professor Marvel in THE WIZARD OF OZ. Photographed by: Kacy Meinecke and Jerry Fritchman

We’re half way through our 8 show run. Last night, I heard reactions from the audience after I spoke Tagalog, telling me that there were those who understood what I just said. I couldn’t have been more proud knowing that filipinos in Wichita, KS witnessed this and saw that someone who looked like them was playing the character of the WIZARD in “The Wizard of Oz”, this American Classic Tale.

Thank you Debrah, Wayne and MTW for being active in showing diversity in Musical Theater.

and I must not forget. I dedicate this role to the man who made this all happen for me and to so many in MTW history, the effervescence that is Mr Wayne Bryan. He is synonymous to this great organization and I love him madly 💖”

There are two more performances today to see the show – at 2pm and 8pm. Click here for tickets.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer, an Award winning filmmaker and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. Her short film, When the World Was Young recently garnered a 2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also the host and Executive Producer of BACKSTAGE PASS WITH LIA CHANG, a new Arts and Entertainment program that airs on MNN.org.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2022 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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