Theatergoers soon will have a chance to enjoy a contemporary production of a timeless tale of good and evil, set in a land populated by colorful characters such as munchkins, a cowardly lion, a tin man, a scarecrow and a bigger-than-life wizard.

Beginning April 27, The North Riverside Recreation Community Theater will present “The Wizard of Oz,” Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., with matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. The show runs through May 6. The production is one of many incarnations of the classic tale.

The story originated in 1900 in the form of a children’s book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” written by L. Frank Baum, with illustrations by William Denslow. It has been the subject of numerous adaptations in a variety of media in the years since then.

The first stage version was produced by Baum and Denslow themselves, premiering in Chicago in 1903, before moving to New York and then onto Broadway. Several film adaptations followed, beginning with three different silent film versions, including a 1925 version produced by silent film comedian Larry Semon, with Oliver Hardy (of the famed Laurel & Hardy comedy team) as the Tin Man.

The most familiar version was the lavish Technicolor MGM musical starring Judy Garland as Dorothy; the film was released in 1939, with annual television repeats for many years. The story also has been the subject of several animated interpretations, including the 1964 Rankin-Bass television special “Return To Oz.”

Most recently, the characters have been the subject of a new musical, “Wicked: The Untold Story Of The Witches Of Oz,” written by Winnie Holtzman with music and lyrics by Steven Schwartz. The production, which serves as a “prequel” examining the “pre-Dorothy” lives of Oz characters, was loosely based on another book, Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.”

The current NRRCT production is based on a 1988 adaptation produced in the United Kingdom by the Royal Shakespeare Company, with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg. That version was officially based on the 1939 MGM feature film, and “it’s pretty faithful to the movie,” said producer Al Meyer.

However, Meyer noted, “there’s more music in the play than there is in the film.” One additional musical number is “The Jitterbug,” which originally was filmed for the movie but cut before release.

The current NRRCT production is only the latest in a string of well-received shows, mostly musicals. Since its founding in 1989, the troupe has mounted two productions a year, one in the spring and another in the fall. Most are musical shows, with the spring show tending to be a bigger, more elaborate production with a larger cast.

The company’s 27 productions to date have ranged from such classics as “Hello, Dolly,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “The Music Man” and “Little Shop of Horrors,” to six original scripts written by troupe members.

Meyer said as a non-profit group, “we like to try to reach a wide audience, and to do a well-known show with a big cast.”

In selecting “The Wizard Of Oz” as the next show, the troupe “wanted to do something that would garner a lot of attention and bring out young and old alike,” said director Jay Fontanetta, who like several participants, counts “Oz” among his own favorites.

“I was very fond of the story, and I grew up with it,” Fontanetta said. “People are going to come and see their favorite timeless classic, infused with a breath of fresh air.”

Though the original story is now over a century old, according to Fontanetta, “this show has such universal themes of friendship, family and coming of age, it still rings true and can still speak to the modern viewer. Those are very strong themes, and they have helped to make it as timeless as it’s become.”

“It’s a very family-friendly show,” said Cheryl Silver, a member of the NRRCT board of directors. “We’re encouraging people to bring their kids.”

Indeed, family is a strong element of the current production.

“Family is everywhere,” said North Riverside resident Jason Czajka, who plays the Scarecrow. His brother is playing a guard; both brothers and their mother, Deborah, also performed in a recent production of “Grease.”

“We’re a very theatrical family, and I’ve been theater my whole life,” Czajka said.

Fontanetta’s brother, Adam, plays the role of the Cowardly Lion. “He had to audition,” Fontanetta said.

Barbara Molina is playing the role of Glinda the Good Witch, while her daughter Miranda is a munchkin. This is the third time the mother and daughter have shared a stage together.

“She’s a little actress,” Molina remarked. “It’s fun to share your hobby with your kids. Sometimes, she has a bigger part than me, which is fine.”

Molina said acting is her hobby, which she has enjoyed since her college years. For one production, Lionel Bart’s “Oliver,” Molina had to master an English accent, which caught her daughter’s attention.

“She heard me do the accent, and she picked it up,” Molina remembered. “She’s a good kid and a fine actress, and she follows direction well.”

The show also is a family affair for Oak Park resident Jaime Sandoval, who plays the Tin Man. Sandoval met his wife, Maura, while working at Oak Park’s Village Players in the 1980s. Daughter Siobhan also plays a munchkin; Siobhan had taken an acting class at Village Players “and she wanted to audition for something,” Sandoval recalled.

Sandoval had not done any acting for about 12 years, taking a long break after he and his wife were married.

“I wanted to introduce my daughter to theater,” he said. As it turned out, “she was cast, and the next week, I got called back for the Tin Man.”

“What a great program this is for kids,” Molina said. “They can learn about music and theater, and they care about the kids, and they’re sensitive to their schedules.”

An actress since age 5, Danielle Aument plays Dorothy. Though she plays three characters in the American Girl Revue at Chicago’s American Girl store, this is Aument’s first appearance in North Riverside.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “I saw ‘Grease’ and I really liked it. I auditioned, but I didn’t expect to get Dorothy.”

Ben Affetto plays the title role of the Wizard. “He’s a con man,” Affetto said. “I don’t think I’m very deceptive.” However, Affetto said he feels there is more to the character than what is on the surface.

“When you strip everything away,” Affetto said, “he’s a pretty sweet and caring guy. Once you take away all the fluff and the color, he’s a kind guy who is willing to help anyone who needs it. He certainly has concern, and makes a good, genuine effort to help his friends.”

The Wizard is “a man who’s suddenly found himself in a situation that’s over his head, and he’s doing the best he can to cope with it,” said Fontanetta.