As we count down to the final performance of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz at Adventure Theatre-MTC, I thought it would be nice to get to know our cast a little better. I had a chance to speak with them about their life in the theatre, their roles, and where we can see them next onstage. And now Thony Mena, who plays the Cowardly Lion. Please enjoy!
JACQUELINE LAWTON: To begin, why did you decide to get into theater? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
THONY MENA: The first time I remember thinking, “Hey I could do this!” was in high school. My friend was always asking me to be a part of the school’s Heritage Show. This was a night where the student body displayed their different cultures through music, dance, and some sketches. I swore I couldn’t do it because of wrestling practice, but in 11th grade I decided to go for it. We rehearsed for months. It was so challenging/fun/rewarding. I knew that I had to do it for a living!
JL: What excited you about working on the world premiere production of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz at Adventure Theatre-MTC?
TM: So many things! For starters, this is such a classic story that every child and family should know. There are so many lessons to be learned while at the same time expanding the audience’s imagination. Another thing that got me excited was the people involved. From the cast, to the production team, to the crew. On the very first day of rehearsal I think we all could tell that this was going to be a special show.
JL: Published in September of 1900, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a much beloved classic story. Why do you feel this story is relevant to today’s audiences?
TM: Whether you’re a boy, girl, man, woman, gay, straight, black, white, brown, yellow, anything at all, I really believe that people can relate to Dorothy and her friends at any given time of their lives. Dorothy feels like she’s missing out on other things in life, but doesn’t first appreciate the life in front of her. The friends all feel like they are lacking certain qualities, when in reality they just have to find it within themselves. I know I’ve felt this way before at some point in my life. These are just a few of the many themes that are in the story.
JL: Who are you playing? What, if anything, do you have in common with this character’s passions, values, intentions or belief system?
TM: I have the honor of playing the Cowardly Lion! ROAR!!! The Lion and I have plenty in common. We’re both very loyal friends that will do anything for those that we love. We are also very goofy and silly even when we aren’t trying to be. I think the main thing we have in common is that we don’t know how courageous we are until we look back and think about the things that we’ve done and what we’ve gone through. The world is a big scary place and sometimes we are asked to dive into unchartered territory. Even though it’s frightening, we do it anyway and come out stronger!
JL: What’s next for you as an actor? Where can we follow your work?
TM: Up next I’ll be at Theatre Alliance in Occupied Territories, June 10th – July 5th. It’s the story of the complexity and persistence of memory, decades after war. With text sparked by Trojan Women, Occupied Territories exposes a world where a man must finally face his past, his God, his family. Highly physical, Occupied Territories tears away easy boundaries to question how bodies, minds, and souls are vast territories altered by our relentless history of War. You can follow my work by visiting www.ThonyMena.com! Don’t be frightened by the ugly mug on the Home Page!
Wonderful Wizard of Oz Event Info
THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
April 3 – May 31, 2015
Based on the novel by L. Frank Baum
Adapted by Jacqueline E. Lawton
Directed by Roberta Gasbarre
Starring Henian Boone, Ryan Dalusung, Maggie Erwin, Pasquale Guiducci, Thony Mena, Sarah Olmsted-Thomas, Alex Vernon, and Paige Hernandez as Dorothy Gale
Recommended for All Ages
Running Time: 1 hour with no intermission
Click here to purchase tickets.
Life in Kansas has been a bit boring for Dorothy and her little dog Toto. Until one day, a cyclone swoops in and takes them “over the rainbow” to the wonderful and magical land of Oz. With the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy sets off on the adventure of a lifetime down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. These new friends brave witches, flying monkeys, and a Haunted Forest all to meet the Wizard of Oz, who promises to make their dreams come true.
Tickets to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are $19-19.50 each, with group and field trip rates available, and can be purchased through the box office by calling 301-634-2270 or online at www.adventuretheatre-mtc.org. Children under the age of one are free. The press performance is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, April 4th.
All performances will take place at Adventure Theatre MTC, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, MD, 20812 in the historic Glen Echo Park.
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I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!