Contemporary ballet

Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater presents the world premiere of “The Lost Princess of Oz”


originally published: 07/21/2022

(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 multimedia dance musical, The Lost Princess of Oz at Monmouth University’s Pollak Theater in Long Branch, NJ. A special preview will include a Q&A with Mr. Chajnik and the artists after the performance on Friday, August 19 at 6:00 p.m. Production begins Saturday, August 20 at 7:30 p.m. and takes place over two weekends with nine performances in total ending on Sunday, August 28.

The production follows The Wizard of Oz and was conceived, directed and choreographed by M. Chajnik, with a libretto by Shannon Hill based on two classics by L. Frank Baum, 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 retrieve the stolen magic from Oz.

The cast includes Asbury Park’s own country duo Reagan Richards and Williams Honor’s Gordon Brown. Mr. Brown plays Frank L. Baum who sits on stage writing the story which unfolds on his typewriter as it unfolds on stage. Mrs. Richards tells the story as “Billina the Talking Hen”.

Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater presents the world premiere of "The Lost Princess of Oz"

“I am honored to bring together such an incredible team. I envisioned 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 take our audience on an enchanting and uplifting journey,” Mr. Chajnik said. “It’s a fairy tale brought to life and I’m delighted it’s being performed at Monmouth University in their beautiful refurbished Pollak Theatre.”

The cast is made up of members of the AXCBT company and students (aged 7 and up) from local dance studios. In addition to Mrs. 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 “Dancing Billina”, Olivia Miranda as Patchwork Girl, Jose Rojas as Tin Man and John Wisienski as Lucky Ojo, while Tuyaya Balzhieva and Gillian Worek will alternate as Glinda the Good Witch. Student dancers round out the cast, including Lilakoi Grover and Alina Xio who alternate as Dorothy; Scarlet Collins as Jellia Jam and AXCBT intern Deshon Parkman as Frogman.

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Andrew Black, who appeared in everything is fine on Broadway created the tap numbers for Mrs. Collins (Jellia Jam) and Mr. Wisieneski (Ojo the Lucky).

Live music will be played at each performance by a musical ensemble that includes musicians selected by Maestro Jason Tramm to an Appalachian-inspired composition infused with country fiddles and bluegrass banjos. “This production would not have been possible without the tremendous support of APAC Artistic Director Andrew DePrisco and AXCBT President Elise Feldman,” Mr. Chajnik said. “The resources they provide are invaluable and they inspire me not only to dream ‘big’, but also to achieve my vision. Special thanks also go to New Music USA for funding the live music for this work.

The performances take place on Friday August 19 at 6:00 p.m.*; Saturday August 20 at 7.30 p.m.; Sunday August 21 at 2 p.m.; Sunday August 21 at 7 p.m.; Friday August 26 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday August 27 at 2 p.m.; Sunday August 28 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. *Preview followed by a Q&A with the artists

Ticket prices range from $20 to $55 and are available for purchase online or by calling 732.531.9106 ext. 14. There is a $3.50 fee per ticket and an additional $3.50 convenience fee for credit card purchases. Student tickets are $18.

The 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 are 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 for the growth of AXCBT and its audience. AXCBT is proud of its perseverance in the face of the challenges of 2020 and the company’s continued dance education. Chajnik and its dancers aim to expand creativity and appreciation for the arts throughout New Jersey, inviting patrons, students and artists to join them in this rewarding endeavor.

The Axelrod Performing Arts Center produces its own professional musicals and ballets for the Jersey Shore in collaboration with Broadway directors, choreographers and designers, featuring professional actors, dancers and singers. The Axelrod Performing Arts Center encourages artistic excellence by presenting diverse and distinct cultural programs that enrich the imaginative, intellectual, and creative soul, inspire Jewish travel, and cultivate an appreciation for our diverse communities through the pursuit of the arts. A 501c3 organization, Axelrod PAC’s financial support comes from individuals, foundations and grants that enable the arts center to present events and programs throughout the year. They would like to thank their patrons and donors who support the Axelrod Performing Arts Center each year.

AXCBT Artistic Director Gabriel Chajnik received undergraduate dance training at the Julliard School under the legendary instructor, mentor and maestro emeritus of Juilliard faculty Héctor Zaraspe. Mr. Chajnik’s work has been performed at the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C., Alice Tully Hall, Clark Theater at Lincoln Center, Manhattan Movement and Arts Center and at the Lambs Theatre. As an educator, he has taught various dance technique classes at renowned dance schools such as Brooklyn Music School (NY), Princeton Ballet School (NJ), 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 Theater (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 President Elise Feldman. Mr. Chajnik was honored by the Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties. In September 2021, Monmouth Arts honored Gabriel for his work in the community during the pandemic.

Honor Williams is Jersey Shore’s very first country duo. After having their first top 30 with “No Umbrella”, they toured the country with radio, tour and TV appearances and ended up performing at Madison Square Garden getting exploited by Bon Jovi. . During the pandemic, The Willi Ho Show became Pollstar’s #24 international year-end livestream of 2020. Their recently released second album “eX” is now available to download and stream wherever you get music.

Monmouth University is the first private coastal university in the region offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in a dynamic and personalized learning environment. Located in West Long Branch, New Jersey, Monmouth University’s beautiful coastal campus is about an hour from New York and Philadelphia. Innovative academic programs, individual attention from faculty, and nationally ranked Division I athletics make this private university an ideal place for students to find their future.

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