(HOLMDEL, NJ) -- In partnership with Axelrod Performing Arts Center (APAC), the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater (AXCBT) will present the World Premiere of Artistic Director Gabriel Chajnik’s multi-media dance musical, The Lost Princess of Oz in the Pollak Theater at Monmouth University in Long Branch, NJ. A special Preview Performance will feature a Q&A with Mr. Chajnik and the artists following the performance on Friday, August 19 at 6:00pm. The production opens on Saturday, August 20 at 7:30pm and runs over two weekends with nine total performances ending on Sunday, August 28.
The production serves as a sequel to The Wizard of Oz and was conceived of, and directed and choreographed by Mr. Chajnik, with libretto by Shannon Hill based on two L. Frank Baum classics, The Lost Princess of Oz and Ozma of Oz. It continues the adventures of beloved characters Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, the Lion, Glinda the Good Witch of the North and the Wizard of Oz while introducing new characters including the Frogman, the Patchwork Girl and Tik-Tok. The Lost Princess of Oz follows the group as they search for Princess Ozma to recover the magic stolen from Oz.
The cast features Asbury Park’s own chart-topping country duo, Reagan Richards and Gordon Brown of Williams Honor. Mr. Brown plays Frank L. Baum who sits on the stage writing the unfolding tale on his typewriter as it happens on stage. Ms. Richards narrates the tale as “Billina the Talking Hen.”
“I am honored to bring together such an incredible team. I have been envisioning creating a magical story about what happens next for Dorothy and her friends in Oz and our talented artists have created a show that will lead our audience on an enchanting and exhilarating journey,” said Mr. Chajnik. “It’s a fairy tale come to life and I am delighted it will be performed at Monmouth University in their beautifully renovated Pollak Theater.”
The cast is comprised of AXCBT company members and students (ages 7+) from local dance studios. In addition to Ms. Richards and Mr. Brown, the professional cast includes Denzel Green as the Cowardly Lion, Paulo Gutierrez as the Scarecrow, Alyssa Harris as Caykee, Lindsey Jorgensen as the “dancing Billina,” Olivia Miranda as the Patchwork Girl, Jose Rojas as the Tin Man and John Wisienski as Ojo the Lucky, while Tuyaya Balzhieva and Gillian Worek and will alternate in the role of Glinda the Good Witch. Student dancers round out the cast including Lilakoi Grover and Alina Xio who alternate in the role of Dorothy; Scarlet Collins as Jellia Jam and AXCBT Trainee Deshon Parkman as Frogman.
Andrew Black, who appeared in Anything Goes on Broadway created the tap numbers for Ms. Collins (Jellia Jam) and Mr. Wisieneski (Ojo the Lucky).
Live music will be played at each performance by a musical ensemble which includes musicians selected by Maestro Jason Tramm to an Appalachian-inspired composition infused with country fiddles and bluegrass banjoes. “This production would not have been realized without the tremendous support of APAC Artistic Director Andrew DePrisco and AXCBT President Elise Feldman,” said Mr. Chajnik. “The resources they provide are invaluable and they inspire me to not only dream ‘big’ but also realize my vision. A special thanks also goes to New Music USA for funding the live music for this work.”
Performances take place Friday, August 19 at 6:00pm*; Saturday, August 20 at 7:30pm; Sunday, August 21 at 2:00pm; Sunday, August 21 at 7:00pm; Friday, August 26 at 7:30pm; Saturday, August 27 at 2:00pm; Sunday, August 28 at 2:00pm & 7:00pm. *Preview performance followed by Q&A with the artists
Ticket prices range from $20 to $55 and are available for purchase online or by calling 732.531.9106, extension 14. There is a $3.50 fee per ticket and an additional $3.50 convenience fee for credit card purchases. Student tickets are $18.
Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Company’s production of The Lost Princess of Oz was supported by New Music USA’s New Music Organizational Development Fund.
Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater (AXCBT) strives to cultivate an environment rooted in diversity, inspiration, encouragement, and equality where all are welcome and heard. Listening and learning is at the heart of our commitments to change policies, attitudes, and habits that do not align with our core values. Gabriel Chajnik has assembled a community of skilled artists, each unique and necessary to the growth of AXCBT and its audience. AXCBT prides itself on its perseverance through the challenges of 2020 and the company’s continuation of dance education. Chajnik and his dancers aim to expand creativity and appreciation for the arts throughout New Jersey, inviting patrons, students, and artists to join them on this gratifying endeavor.
The Axelrod Performing Arts Center produces its own professionally staged musicals and ballets for the Jersey Shore in collaboration with Broadway directors, choreographers, and designers, showcasing professional actors, dancers and singers. The Axelrod Performing Arts Center fosters artistic excellence by showcasing varied and distinct cultural programs which enrich the imaginative, intellectual and creative soul, inspire Jewish journeys, and cultivate an appreciation of our diverse communities through the pursuit of the arts. A 501c3 organization, funding support for the Axelrod PAC comes from individuals, foundations, and grants that enable the arts center to present year-round events and programming. They want to thank their patrons and donors who support the Axelrod Performing Arts Center annually.
AXCBT Artistic Director Gabriel Chajnik received undergraduate dance training at The Julliard School studying under legendary instructor, mentor, and Juilliard faculty emeritus Maestro Héctor Zaraspe. Mr. Chajnik’s work has been featured at the Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., Alice Tully Hall, the Clark Theatre at Lincoln Center, Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, and the Lambs Theatre. As an educator, he has taught various dance technique classes to notable dance schools such as Brooklyn Music School (NY), Princeton Ballet School (NJ), the Academy of Dance Arts (NJ), and Gotta Dance (NJ). Mr. Chajnik merged his two passions of choreography and education by establishing the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theatre (AXCBT), the first professional dance company in the Monmouth County area, and the Axelrod Performing Arts Academy (APPA), both with the help of Axelrod Performing Arts Center’s President Elise Feldman. Mr. Chajnik has been honored by the Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon, & Warren Counties. In September 2021, Monmouth Arts honored Gabriel for his work in the community during the pandemic.
Williams Honor is the Jersey Shore's first ever country duo. After having their first top 30 with "No Umbrella" they circled the country with radio, touring and tv appearances and ending up performing at Madison Square Garden getting tapped by Bon Jovi. During the pandemic The Willi Ho Show became Pollstar's #24 Year End International Livestream of 2020. Their newly released sophomore album "eX" is available now to download and stream everywhere you get music.
Monmouth University is the region’s premier private coastal university offering a comprehensive array of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs in a dynamic and personalized learning environment. Located in West Long Branch, New Jersey, Monmouth University’s magnificent coastal campus is approximately one hour from both New York City and Philadelphia. Innovative academic programs, individual faculty attention, and nationally ranked Division I athletics make this private university a great place for students to find their future.