Heart-filled adaptation of ‘Wizard of Oz’ comes to Heinz Hall

By Larissa Gula

“Wizard of Oz”

March 20 – April 4

Heinz Hall

March 20 – April 4

Heinz Hall

Presented by PNC Broadway Across America – Pittsburgh

(412) 392-4900 or at pgharts.com

$27.50 through Pitt Arts

Just as the Tin Man embarks on a journey to gain a heart in the perennial classic “The Wizard of Oz,” Peter Gosik sees his involvement in the musical in a similar fashion, and he would like audiences to take away a message he has learned from the show.

“Everybody, as we grow up, has to have a heart and [has] to love people,” Gosik said.

All of the characters — and all of the heart — from the classic 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” are singing and dancing their way into Heinz Hall in a family musical meant to bring the magic of the movie to the stage.

Gosik, who graduated from the University of Michigan in 2008 and plays the Tin Woodman, or the Tin Man as he is more commonly known, said the stage version of “The Wizard of Oz” only adds to the fantastic elements of the film.

“You can’t get away from the movie, and you don’t want to because it’s such a classic piece of culture,” Gosik said. “We keep and honor everything wonderful about the film, but we do things that you can only do on a live stage.”

The additions to the stage show include an extra dance number (“Jitterbug”) that was filmed but never added to the final version of the movie, as well as extra lines of dialogue that flesh out the characters.

“You get to know the characters better than you do in the movie,” he said.

According to Gosik, this also helps the theater make the production unique to that particular creative team.

“You don’t want to go into it trying to copy the movie,” he said. “That is somebody else’s performance, not yours. We’re fortunate in that our script fleshes out [my] character more than in the movie, where they just find him and he comes along. You get backstory.”

The backstory includes a romance that ends with the Wicked Witch casting a spell on the Tin Man and replacing his parts with tin, Gosik said.

“It was a revelation when I read that,” he said. “He really is a real person. Approaching him that way and finding honest emotions, not being a caricature of a walking statue, helped me come at it not from 1939 but in 2010. His quest to find a heart is very special to me.”

The Tin Man travels with Dorothy looking for a heart, only to be told by the Wizard of Oz himself he is lucky not to have one at the end of his journey. The Tin Man, however, says something that strikes Gosik.

“There’s a moment where he says ‘I still want one,’” he said. “For me, that is the message of the show. You have to risk having your heart broken. To me, playing that part is really affirming.”

Gosik grew up watching the film with his mother. He believes the show has something to offer everyone and that “The Wizard of Oz” is not dated, despite its age.

“The ultimate message is that you have all these people who think they are missing something, and I think everybody feels that way — that there’s something wrong with them. What you come to learn is you are good enough; the thing you think you lack has always been there, you have to see it in yourself,” he said.

Gosik also hopes that children who see his show will react the same way he did when, in the second grade, he saw his first musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” with his mother.

“I fell in love right there,” he said. “This is my first tour and I’m glad to do it because of the kids. I hope there are kids who react the same way I did and that I can spark a love of theater, as actors or audience members.”