Her job is ‘Oz’-some!

By on July 11, 2018

…but ‘there’s no place like home’ for this Lititz native


Katelyn Candiello, who grew up in Lititz, is touring with the national production of “The Wizard of Oz,” currently at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre through Aug. 4. One of the many perks of Katelyn’s job is hanging out backstage with Murphy, who plays the role of Toto in the show (Photos by Michael Upton)

In theater, a “swing” is a person who may, literally, learn dozens of parts of a single show. The swing can be called in to perform an ensemble member’s role when the listed cast member is unavailable.

A swing’s inclusion can be planned, like when an actor has a previous engagement and cannot make a certain show. Or, a swing can come to the rescue when an actor falls ill and cannot take the stage. Either way, the swing always has his or her hands full and must be ready to work with little notice.

Lititz native Katelyn Candiello is the swing for the national touring production of “The Wizard of Oz,” now showing at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, but she does much more than potentially wear the hat of a flying monkey.

“On tour I covered the seven female ensemble tracks, and in-house I cover all 14 ensemble member tracks,” said Candiello prior to opening night.

Meanwhile, she is also studying for her master’s degree through New York University’s online program. While touring, she attends university part time, taking two classes per semester, to attain her goal of becoming a vocal speech pathologist.

“In high school one of my teachers had a paralyzed vocal fold,” said Candiello. “I found that there is a whole field where you can help someone who had these issues.”

She began researching the field, and her dreams of becoming a voice teacher morphed into something more. Voice therapy includes helping actors make the most of their talents, but goes beyond stage performance and serves a role in voice disorders and injuries unrelated to acting.

“I realized I really wanted to be that person who helps,” said Candiello.

Getting an education while on the road has its challenges. Often, Candiello would use Skype to virtually log into her classes while on the bus between shows. Rehearsal for “The Wizard of Oz” started in October 2017. The show traveled North America for eight months, performing in 93 cities from Washington to Maine and Canada. Candiello was particularly fond of Spokane, Wash., and Sioux Falls, S.D.

“I love this show. I fell in love with the moral of it,” said Candiello. “I had a love for ‘Wicked’ when I was 10.”

She returned in May with the rest of the cast and rehearsals when the “home” run of the production resumed in June. Born in Lancaster County and raised in Lititz, Candiello lived on the edge of the Warwick/Manheim Township school district border and attended the latter.

“When I was three, I was in ballet and I had three goals. I’m going to get on pointe; I’m going to be in the nutcracker; and, I’m going to be on Broadway,” said Candiello. “I always wanted to perform.”

The youngest child in the family, she often forced her somewhat willing siblings and their friends to perform shows at home.

“My sister came home from college and I remember she was having a New Year’s Eve party and I must have been seven or eight. I made them perform ‘Lion King’ in our living room to our parents,” said Candiello. “I always wanted to be a part of the theatrical world.”

At age 10 she started attending area theatre camps, and at age 12 auditioned for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Dutch Apple. She landed a role in the children’s chorus. She fit in at the theatre and wound up in one or two productions each year. In high school, she participated in every theatre production she could, including a role as Little Red in “Into the Woods” during her sophomore year; and in her senior year starred in “Crazy for You” alongside her best friend. She stuck with Dutch Apple and eventually became part of the theater’s camp as an instructor. Now, at age 23, she is the head coordinator and music teacher at Broadway Bound, the theater’s summer workshop series.

“It’s very fun,” said Candiello. “I really love teaching. I love being able to give children the confidence to go up on stage.”

Even with a demanding life filled with university studies, theatre camp, and a show as big as “Wizard of Oz” Candiello still looks forward to a busy future. Like they say, there’s no rest for the wicked, and Candiello and crew will head back out on tour bringing Dorothy’s story of wonderment to U.S. cities from August until January 2019.

“I love to travel, so it’s perfect,” said Candiello.

Her other past Dutch Apple credits include “Seussical the Musical,” “Mary Poppins,” “Shrek,” “The King and I,” and “High School Musical.” She thanks her family, friends, and dogs “for their never-ending support.”

“The Wizard of Oz” runs until Aug. 4 at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre. Information on tickets and showtimes can be found at dutchapple.com.

Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He welcomes comments at somepromcu@gmail.com and facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

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