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Exclusive: One-on-one with Dorothy from NDM Productions’ ‘Wizard of Oz’

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NDM Wizard of OzNDM Productions presents its first play on Thursday when the curtain goes up on “Wizard of Oz” at the Great Falls High School auditorium.

Today we present you with the first of four or five Q and A interviews, which will be augmented with some video and a story about the production company started by Zach Dennis and Ali Jo Sheets, and show itself.

Without further ado, here is the first interview with Olivia Ercolano, who plays the lead role of Dorothy.


While Ercolano, the lead actress in NDM Productions’ presentation of “Wizard of Oz,” is new to the Great Falls theater scene, she is no stranger to the stage. She’s appeared in many college and professional productions including “To Kill a Mockingbird” as Mayella Ewell, Wendla in “Spring’s Awakening,” Sharpay in “High School Musical,” Hodel in “Fiddler on the Roof,” along with a lead role in the second season of the TV series “Deadly Affairs,” on the Investigation Discovery channel.

She recently completed her BFA in Drama from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and sat down with an exclusive one-on-one interview with Big Sky State Buzz about her upcoming role as Dorothy.

Olivia Ercolano stars as Dorothy in NDM Productions' "Wizard of Oz"
Olivia Ercolano stars as Dorothy in NDM Productions’ “Wizard of Oz”

Big Sky State Buzz: This is your first show ever in Great Falls. What are your thoughts about being here and getting ready to perform in front of all new audiences?

Olivia Ercolano: It’s been a lot of fun. Zach and I went to school together so that’s how we know each other and he told me how he and Ali were starting their own theater company and asked me to be a part and I gladly accepted. It’s exciting to get involved in brand-new productions like this, and I think it’s something we all strive for, so I was very excited with the opportunity to work on this show and I’m so proud of what Zach and Ali have done, it’s just good experience all around.”

BSSB: At the same time, it’s often said that a show is only as good as it’s cast. How well would you say everyone has gotten along together thus far?

OE: Everyone’s pretty great to work around. Usually in a cast there’s some kind of conflict or drama off the stage, but overall here everyone is nice and everyone is getting along really well and willing to do the work necessary to pull it off. Plus you have all these people building these elaborate sets and doing it all as volunteers, which is cool because it shows that people care about the quality and have been more than willing to get it done.

BSSB: Do you identify with Dorothy more after playing her in this show?

OE: Dorothy is sort of a different role for me meaning it’s not quite what I’m used to as far as my age and my height, but it’s cool to see how Zach relates to the role and I’m sure he’ll talk to you about how he’s come back home. When you come to a certain age like Zach, Ali and me in our mid-20s, we start thinking about coming home and starting our own thing. Plus, everyone just loves Dorothy, right? She’s such an iconic character.

BSSB: This show seems to not only be true to the original story, but it also takes parts of certain adaptations and meshes those into it as well, from what I’ve heard. Do you think there are any big surprises that people might not expect?

OE: I was surprised by my shoes because, as you can see, they’re a pretty different choice for this role. But, I think it’s cool and it’s a testament to how they’re bringing in different pieces from different places and people who love the movie will still see things they remember, even small movements or gestures a character makes will make people recognize that part from the film. But, the set is all our own concept, and the little costume pieces, like my shoes, are things people won’t expect – the fact that I’m wearing stilettos, for instance. There’s just a little bit of everything to keep things fresh.

BSSB: What do you think it is about the “Wizard of Oz” story that has made it so enduring all these years?

OE: I know a lot of people who grew up with the movie from my generation so there’s that nostalgic remembrance and what’s cool is we’ve been introducing it to younger kids who play in the show or auditioned for the show who have never seen it before. But, I think more than anything it’s just a good, old-fashioned heartwarming family story.

BSSB: What’s your background and how did you get into acting?

OE: Well, I’m originally from Baltimore, MD and I’ve been in acting since middle school. I was a pretty shy kid and you wouldn’t expect that I’d get into theater but I found it was a good way to express myself and I just continued on that path and went to college for it and am now doing it professionally. I never questioned why I was doing it, I just kept going down that road and it’s always been a really good outlet for me. In a way it’s very familiar and feels like home whenever I get on stage to perform.

BSSB: On opening night, you’ll be performing in front of an all new audience, though, is there a certain level of nervousness for you in particular?

OE: I know I’m going to be nervous for opening night, and I’ll probably be wondering if everyone is going to like me or not, but the cast has been great. I hope everyone is excited to see it in person especially because this company Zach and Ali are starting are doing some big things with it. I’m confident that it is going to be very successful. It’s great because Ali has a business background and Zach was in theater with me so they both have the right pieces that fit together really well and they’re just a very good team.

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