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‘Dorothy’ Assumes New Role as St. Thomas Playhouse Stages ‘The Wizard of Oz’
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Monday, September 18, 2023
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Sara Gorby was Dorothy when St. Thomas Playhouse staged “The Wizad of Oz” 20 years ago.

On Wednesday night Annabelle Lewis will wear the ruby red shoes as she clicks them together and chants “There’s no place like home.” This time Gorby will be the director and choreographer.

She also will be the full-time leader of St. Thomas Playhouse.

Gorby has been so involved with St. Thomas Playhouse over the years that some people assumed she was the director. But it’s official now. And, rather than wait and throw a retirement party 20 years from now, St. Thomas Episcopal Church just threw an end-of-the-summer white party for Gorby, celebrating her new appointment and celebrating all the children whose lives she’s touched during the past 18 years.

“It’s about time,” said Margie Gould, a member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, which created the playhouse as an outreach to the community.

Gorby grew up in the Wood River Valley where, at a young age, she adopted a Cabbage Patch doll. Her proud mother Jeannie Bradshaw still has the adoption papers, among other treasures from her daughter’s youth.

“If you were lucky to live next to Sara, you got to produce a play,” Bradshaw said. “None of the parents in the neighborhood worried about their kids because they knew they were in our backyard, and that evening they’d have to bring their folding chairs over to our backyard to see the latest play the children had worked on.”

Gorby studied theater at College of Southern Idaho before going to the University of Utah where she performed with the chamber choir that grooms those who go on to sing at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Her husband Matt Gorby fell in love with her after hearing her sing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B” in Boise.

Sara married Matt wearing her ruby red slippers, which had been painted red with fingernail polish and covered with a hundred hand-glued “rubies.” And the couple named their daughter Idaho Belle after Sara’s grandmother. Ida Belle definitely inherited the family gene for theatrical performances and will, in fact, play the Scarecrow in this week’s productions of “Wizard of Oz.”

Carter Hickey, a teenager at the church, told how his family didn’t know a soul when they moved to the Wood River Valley five years ago from Virginia.

“The first family we met were the Gorbys, and they’re like my second family,” he added. “We spend every Christmas and Easter with them. Sara cares about everybody unconditionally, Se’s always asking, ‘How’s life? ‘What’s challenging?’ ‘What’s happening at school’ She’s willing to help anyone unconditionally. I’ve seen her stop and drop what she’s doing to help.”

Scout Kendall concurred. She recounted how her family had moved here three years ago during the COVID pandemic. It was a stressful, overwhelming period of life and Sara made a difference.

“If you volunteer anywhere, Sara will be there. And she’s able to be there with such determination, a smile on her face. You can talk to her about anything. She has a way of saying just exactly what you need to hear,” she added.

Church leader Rebecca Waycott said that Gorby has always provided safe space for youth to gather. She’s organized Trunk and Treat and countless other activities.

“She’s a jack of all trades, yet a team member,” she said. “The program grown and thrived over 20 years and is definitely at a point where it needs Sara at the helm fulltime.”

IF YOU GO…

St. Thomas Playhouse’s “The Wizard of Oz” will run at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday Sept. 20-24 at the Sun Valley Community School Theater.

The familiar musical—full of little munchkins flying monkeys and, of course, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion, will also have two matinees—at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 and Sunday Sept. 24.

Premium tickets for the play, which is based on L. Frank Baum’s book and features music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, are $35 and standard seats $25 and $15. For tickets, go to  https://ci.ovationtix.com/35974/production/1178575.

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