The Event: Cast party after the opening night performance of "The Wizard of Oz" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa. The recent "Over the Rainbow"-themed bash at Planet Hollywood in Santa Ana honored children supported by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The Irvine-based group grants favors to kids with life-threatening illnesses.
Off to See the Wizard: Thanks to philanthropists John and Donna Crean of Santa Ana Heights--who underwrote the cost of 50 show tickets--Make-A-Wish kids and their families were treated to the Orange County premiere of the musical, starring Mickey Rooney (the Wizard) Jo Anne Worley (the Wicked Witch) and Jessica Grove (Dorothy).
"The show was awesome," rhapsodized 13-year-old Carley Becking of Westminster. "My favorite part was when they danced down the Yellow Brick Road."
Carley, who suffers from a blood disorder, danced down a yellow brick road of her own in 1995 when the Make-A-Wish Foundation made her dream come true. "I got to swim with dolphins in Hawaii," she said.
Party guest Lisa Scognamiglio, 9, of Laguna Niguel got to visit Disney World in Florida in 1997, courtesy of Make-A-Wish. "She had a brain tumor," said her mother, Jill. "And I'm glad to say had--past tense."
Dreams You Dare to Dream: Six-year-old Chelsea Lane of Orange brought an autograph book to the party. And though she was grateful to snag Worley's signature, Chelsea's dream is to watch John Travolta scribble in her book. "She fell in love with him watching 'Grease' when she was 3 years old," said her mother, Candy. Chelsea has a progressive neurological degenerative condition that may leave her "wheelchair-bound by her 20s" if a cure isn't found, Candy Lane said.
Not in Kansas Anymore: Besides mingling with cast members and ogling the restaurant's movie memorabilia, the kids cruised a buffet table festooned with emerald-colored balloons and featuring crispy chicken wings, chips and dip, Caesar salad, pasta and a groaning board of sweets.
Seventeen-year-old Grove felt right at home with the youthful party guests. Playing Dorothy in Radio City Entertainment's musical adaptation of the beloved 1939 film is a privilege, Grove said. "It's an honor to try and fill Judy Garland's ruby slippers." The show plays at Segerstrom Hall through Sunday.
Quote: "There's nothing more thrilling than hearing the uncontrolled giggles and gleeful screams of little kids," Worley said. "It's just wonderful!"
Guest list: Robert Amaral, (the Cowardly Lion); Casey Colgan (the Scarecrow); Dirk Lumbard, (the Tin Man); center President Jerry Mandel ("Great to see so many children at the center," he said); Teri Siplivy, director of Make-A-Wish; Harry and Shari Esayian; and Terry Jones, the center's director of development.
Make-A-Wish information: (949) 476-9474.