Q&A with The Wizard of Oz’s Keeanna Vazquez ‘19
Bay Path University is thrilled to bring audiences down the Yellow Brick Road to The Wizard of Oz! Child psychology major and Springfield, Massachusetts native, Keeanna Vazquez ’19, was determined to audition for Oz’s heroine in ruby slippers, Dorothy Gale, and was over the rainbow when she found out she got the part. This is Keeanna’s first theatre production and lead role. We wanted to get the inside scoop about her experience with the production and all things Oz, so we sat down with the leading lady for a Q&A:
Tell us about your experience in the performing arts.
I’ve always enjoyed singing, and have often performed songs on stage, although I didn’t take any voice lessons until I got to Bay Path—I relied on YouTube video lessons to teach me. Singing is a hobby I began to enjoy at an early age and along the way I became more interested in getting involved in the performing arts. When it came time to look at colleges, music was a deciding factor for me. If a college didn’t offer any music clubs or organizations on campus, I wasn’t interested in attending. The Wizard of Oz is my acting debut!
What other activities are you involved with on and off campus?
I’m in my second semester with the Page and Chorale Singers. Outside of campus, I work at The Arbors Kids in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. I love working with kids. In my downtime, I also enjoy painting, singing, hiking, and traveling to the Midwest.
What was your reason for auditioning for The Wizard of Oz?
I might not have really considered auditioning or had as much confidence in myself without all the support from Bobby Tomasulo [Director, Choral/Musical Activities] who I’ve worked closely with in Page and Chorale. He encouraged me to pursue this opportunity and helped me practice and prepare for auditions. Now I’m living the dream—I’m so thrilled to be playing Dorothy. Growing up, this show was my absolute favorite. My grandparents would dress up with me as the characters of The Wizard of Oz for Halloween—my grandpa was the Scarecrow, my grandma was the Wicked Witch of the West, and I was Dorothy. This work is special to me because I have those fond memories of it and really relate to the character of Dorothy. Now I can bring that to life on stage.
What was the audition process like?
Nerve-wracking. I was really intimidated because I’ve never been in a production before and was new to the audition process. But, I was surrounded by such a supportive group of people who were just as excited to be a part of The Wizard of Oz, helping each other run lines and prepare. Kevin Barlowski [Director of Theatre and Performance Studies] offered helpful tips on how I could improve during my audition, which gave me great relief moving forward. I was still nervous to hear back, but I felt better knowing what he was looking for.
What was your reaction when you first got the role?
When I heard back, I threw my iPad on the couch, started screaming and crying tears of joy. All my family gathered around and gave me hugs. I couldn’t believe I was cast as my favorite character—it was so exciting!
What has it been like to learn the part, get into character, and memorize lines?
I often find myself thinking, “What would Dorothy do in this scenario? Am I doing this right?” so I have been working hard to learn to trust myself in this part. My goal is to be natural and portray the role honestly and genuinely. Dorothy is a young girl who’s innocent and sometimes gullible, but she is always herself. It’s fun to look at things from that perspective and present it to an audience—I get to tell Dorothy’s story from my lens.
What do you think the best scene will be?
It’s so hard to choose. The most intense scene is when the Wicked Witch of the West finally captures Dorothy and tries to get the ruby slippers. It’s very dramatic and is really fun to see these two characters finally interact face-to-face. I think the audience will enjoy the humor in the classic scene where Scarecrow and Dorothy sing the catchy tune everyone knows and loves, “If I Only Had a Brain.”
Is there anything you think will surprise the audience?
The special effects, like bubble and fog machines, confetti cannons, and so much more, really stand out throughout the show. These effects have even been used in Broadway productions and make live theatre amazing. I also believe that our largely female cast will be sure to impress the audience. Our production is bringing a new retelling to an iconic story and we all get to use our unique abilities to bring it to life in our own way. I can’t wait for everyone to see the show!
It’s not too late for theatregoers of all ages to get tickets to see Keeanna and her fellow castmates travel down the Yellow Brick Road in The Wizard Oz! The show is playing from November 9-12 at Bay Path University. Some showings are sold out or very close to selling out, so head to baypath.tix.com or call the box office at 413-565-1307 to purchase tickets today. We hope to see you in Oz!