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'The Wizard Of Oz' Comes Home To Peekskill

The Wicked Witch of the West on display at Paramount Hudson Valley in Peekskill Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Gabbie Sansone plays Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" in Peekskill Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Doug Bagnasco plays The Cowardly Lion. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Stephen Velichko plays The Tin Man. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Jim DeBlasi plays The Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz" in Peekskill. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Some munchkins in "The Wizard of Oz" in Peekskill. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Two munchkins in "The Wizard of Oz" in Peekskill. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- When it comes to performing "The Wizard of Oz," there's no place like Peekskill.

"The Wizard of Oz" is being performed this weekend by Antonia Arts at the Paramount Hudson Valley at 1008 Brown St. in Peekskill .

Peekskill has a strong connection to "The Wizard of Oz." Frank Baum attended Peekskill Military Academy in the 1860s. Many people in the city claim Peekskill's yellow brick road at West Street inspired the famed yellow brick road, though that has been in dispute.

Gabbie Sansone, a Mohegan Lake resident, said playing Dorothy is a real treat.

"I love Judy Garland and I love the movie," Sansone said. "It's an honor to play her part. I just hope to live up to it."

Doug Bagnasco said playing The Cowardly Lion is a dream come true.

"When I was a little kid, I was in love with this movie," Bagnasco, a Yonkers resident, said.

Bagnasco said he has been honing his Bert Lahr (who played the lion in the 1939 movie) impression for years. He said performing the show in Peekskill makes it even more special.

"There's such a history and a love of Oz here," Bagnasco said.

Performing for kids has been a real treat for Bagnasco. After opening night on Friday, he posed for photos with his new fans.

"You could tell how much they were enjoying it," Bagnasco said.

Stephen Velichko plays The Tin Man, who doesn't have a heart.

"This has been a life changing experience," said Velichko, who grew up in Putnam Valley, said. "He is such an iconic character. I was intimidated and didn't want to mess it up. But he is such a great character that I had nothing to worry about."

Velichko said he had no idea Baum lived in Peekskill and that Peekskill had a yellow brick road.

"I'd like to think his time in Peekskill had some influence on "The Wizard of Oz," Velichko said.

Jim DeBlasi is The Scarecrow, who wonders what life would be like if he only had a brain.

"I am grateful for this opportunity," DeBlasi said. "You could feel the energy and love on opening night. It was a remarkable experience. The crowd was singing along and clapping."

"The Wizard of Oz" is being performed Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. For tickets, click here.

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