Casie Maghran is Dorothy, Eric Aranda is the Scarecrow, Paul Eidenmiller is the Tin Man and Daniel Hagberg is the Cowardly Lion in CYT's "Wizard of Oz."


CYT is ready to hit the Yellow Brick Road

Christian Youth Theatre Tucson is off to see the Wizard over the next few weekends.

The children's theater group is staging "The Wizard of Oz." You know the story: Dorothy lands in Oz after a harrowing ride on a tornado and takes off on the Yellow Brick Road in search of the great Wizard, who she hopes will get her home. Along the way she meets the Scarecrow, in search of a brain; the Tin Man, in want of a heart; and the Cowardly Lion, who really could use some courage. Dorothy persuades them all to come with her to see the Wizard. He's all-powerful and, they hope, can grant their wishes.

"The Wizard of Oz" is at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through May 19 at Crowder Hall in the University of Arizona Music Building, which is in the UA Fine Arts Complex at North Park Avenue and East Speedway. Tickets, $10, are available at

Jr. Strings to play piece honoring Giffords

Speech therapists working with Gabrielle Giffords had her recite Harry Dixon Loes' 1920s children's gospel "This Little Light of Mine" to teach her to speak again.

It was central in her recovery from a brain injury after being shot Jan. 8, 2011, in a mass shooting that left six others dead. And the song is central in Tucson composer Alisha Nichols' piece "Light of Tucson," which recounts Giffords' painstaking and often frustrating rehabilitation.

"The melody business in the beginning is very fragmented, like little flashes. And slowly you put these together and you get a longer thought train," said Dennis R. Bourret, the music director and conductor of Tucson Junior Strings, which will play the piece at their spring concert on Saturday. "Then she starts to use her voice and you get, 'This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine'."

By the end of the piece, the musicians are singing the verse, Bourret said.

Nichols, a former member of the Junior Strings who went on to study composing and music in college, wrote the piece for the volunteer Civic Orchestra of Tucson. Bourret heard the orchestra premier in February, and he said he was so struck that he asked Nichols to recast the piece for string orchestra.

That's the version the Junior Strings will play Saturday on a program that also includes works by Dvorák, Halvorsen, Suk, Barber, Mendelssohn, Pachelbel and Vivaldi.

But it is "Light of Tucson" that Bourret thinks will have people talking.

The performance begins with tones coaxed out of a makeshift glass harmonica - six wine glass filled to different levels with water.

"You rub your finger on the rim and each makes a different tone. Each of these six wine glasses represents the people who were killed on Jan. 8," Bourret said.

There are also tone references to Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, who often speaks on Giffords' behalf because her speech is still a work in progress.

"It's a pretty symbolic thing and it's pretty easy to see, frankly, and will have a big impact on the audience," said Bourret, who has led the Junior Strings since 1970.

The spring concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Catalina High School auditorium, 3645 E. Pima St. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted at the door.

Boys Chorus concert previews China tour

The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus will give Tucson a preview of its China tour at its annual pops concert Saturday.

The chorus, under the direction of Julian Ackerley and assisted by Scott Glysson, will showcase the Touring Chorus, Towne-Singers and the Training Chorus performing what organizers describe as "an energetic and entertaining show of lighter music." The program includes the group's signature Western songs with fancy trick rodeo roping and several Chinese pieces that they will perform in China beginning in June.

The Alumni Chorus, featuring singers from the group's past 73 years, also will perform.

Performances Saturday will be at 3 and 7:30 p.m. at Catalina Foothills High School Auditorium, 4300 E. Sunrise Drive.

Reserved seats are $20; it's $15 for general admission, $8 for children 12 and younger. Tickets are available at the Boys Chorus office, 5770 E. Pima St. or online at Details: 296-6277.

Kathleen Allen Cathalena E. Burch Cathalena E. Burch