During the scene in Lexington Children's Theatre's production of the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and her companions approach the Emerald City, the guard peers down at them through a deep emerald curtain attached to a base that alludes to the architecture of the Taj Mahal, the guard's head wrapped tightly in a turban.
It's definitely not the scene with Frank Morgan as the guard in the classic 1939 film, with Morgan's green gloves that almost reach his elbows and the oversized collar reaching higher than his ears.
No, this scene screams Bollywood, with a dash of Emerald City.
For its 14th annual summer family musical, the Children's Theatre gave Wizard of Oz a makeover, blending real-world exotic lands with the imaginary cities in Oz.
Jeremy Kisling says that as director of the show, his challenge is to present the play in a unique way.
"Every show and every process is different, and the interpretation is a little different," he says. "I have to make it fun, make it new and fresh for the cast and myself."
With this production, Dorothy's travels are inspired by various cultures, Kisling says. For example, the Munchkins have a South American, Bolivian vibe, the Ozians a Bollywood, Indian vibe and the Winkies a Mongolian vibe.
"The fundamental story hasn't changed," Kisling says. "It's still Dorothy longing for an exotic world, somewhere different, not like home. We have to take her to that place so she learns the value of home. We keep that aspect. The story is the same; we just put it in a new context."
Kisling's direction follows the example of other adaptations, notably The Wiz, a 1970s stage and film version that tells the story of Dorothy in the context of black culture.
At the Lexington Children's Theatre, about seven families make up the cast. Kisling said although this cast of 37 is generally young, the ages range from 8-year-olds to adults in their mid-40s.
"I try to find plays with a young protagonist, but that can have multi-generations in the play," Kisling says. "The Wizard of Oz provided the opportunity."
Kisling says that in addition to the inspiration from around the world, other aspects of his production of Wizard of Oz are a live Toto, dancing trees and the new interpretation of the jitterbugs.
"I think the thing we try to do is find the perkiness and the fun and the different cultures that Dorothy visits in the land of Oz," he says. "That's the joy of it. For me as a director, I ask myself three questions: Is it simple, is it clever and is it unique?"
More than 60 people have worked on the show for about seven weeks to turn it into something unique, said Jessica Pribble, the show's costume designer.
"I was really excited to just move away from what people expect to see and show them something that is evocative of what the play feels and is evocative of the way of the journey that she goes on," Pribble said.
As the long process comes to a close, Pribble says, she's excited for the upcoming performances: "I've seen lots of different pieces now, and I am excited to seem them come all together."