Featuring Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow and all the rest of the beloved characters of this timeless classic, "The Wizard of Oz" will be presented Dec. 7-9 at Stone Middle School.
Calling her students "an incredibly talented group," school Theater Director Lois Walsh says the cast and crew of nearly 40 has been rehearsing since September and things are coming along well.
"I THINK the audience will love it," she said. "Who hasn't seen 'The Wizard of Oz' and can relate to it? Who doesn't at times feel a little lost and want a fantasy place to go to? All these characters have what they desperately need inside of them, already, and that's an excellent message for kids — that you are who you are, and that's perfectly fine."
Showtimes are Thursday, Dec. 7, at 3:15 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Dec. 9, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $5 and are available for the Dec. 7 performance only in advance at the school. Tickets for the other dates may be purchased during lunch or at the door.
Eighth-grader Ariauna Heck, 13, plays Dorothy. "She's innocent and naive and her dog Toto is her companion and the one she cares about," said Ariauna. "So when they try to take Toto away, she's sad and mad and runs away with him."
She said it's exciting being in the play because she has lots of friends in it and she enjoys acting and singing. She tried out for that part and was thrilled to get it because "it's the lead role and Dorothy's companions on the Yellow Brick Road are fun to be with."
Walsh's son Zack, 11, portrays Toto — or, rather, his voice. "Dorothy holds a dog puppet and I'm hiding behind stuff on stage," he said. "It's really fun because, unlike everybody else in the show, I get to watch the whole thing every night."
The hard part, he said, is "matching the voice with the puppet — which can move its ears and open and close its mouth." But he's happy about it because "I'm interested in cartoons, and now I can tell my friends that I've done voice-overs." Besides that, said Zack, "I have stage fright and, this way, I don't have to get freaked out about seeing the audience."
As for the show, he thinks everyone who comes will like it. Said Zack: "The audience will especially like the twister and the parts where the witch comes because they're awesome!"
Playing the Scarecrow is eighth-grader Kevin Clay, whose dad Billy played the same part recently for the Alliance Theatre. Kevin says his character doesn't think he has a brain and, like the Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, believes he's missing something. But in reality, he said, "They have it, the whole time; they just need a little push from the wizard."
He loves his part because "even when I watched the movie as a kid, he was always my favorite character. He's hyper and I am, too, and we have similar personalities." Kevin said it's challenging staying "super-lively and completely animated" throughout the show, but the Scarecrow "has some of the funnier lines, and I'm falling and rolling all over the ground."
TREVOR KNICKERBOCKER, 14, portrays both the wizard and Professor Marvel. In the latter role, he tricks Dorothy into returning home after she's run away. Said Trevor: "He's a phony who pretends to be something he's not."
And the wizard is the same way. "He pretends to be a big, strong wizard who knows everything and solves everyone's problems," explained Trevor. "But he's just a man behind a curtain." He says it's fun getting to speak in a booming voice and pretend he's mighty, and then, embarrassed.
The toughest part, he said, is having so many lines to memorize and, "in every scene he's in, he has long monologues." But Trevor likes all his tricks and says it's "fun to do what he does."
He says the audience will enjoy the show because "Mrs. Walsh is a really good director, having kids our age doing something so hard."
Seventh-grader Brittany Smith plays Glenda the Good Witch. "She's graceful and is like the mother/guardian of Munchkin Land," said Brittany. "She's nice and cares a lot for others. It's a fun role to play because, normally, I'm nice and kind of like her." Besides that, she added, "She has a crown and a big, pink, poufy dress with stars all over it, and she can do magic."
The most difficult parts for her are mastering the music cues for her entrances and gliding on stage. But she especially likes "the songs and how they interact with the play and with the actors." Brittany's favorite song is "Come Out, Come Out," sung in Munchkin Land, "because everybody on stage gets involved."
Conversely, portraying the Wicked Witch is Nida Syed, 13. "I'm bad, evil and greedy, and I want to get Dorothy and steal her ruby slippers," said Nida. "I like getting to be all mean and using a scratchy voice."
She said the witch's voice and cackle are hardest for her, "but everyone remembers you at the end and you stand out more because everyone else is so nice."
Dylan Daniel, 14, plays the Tin Man. "He's probably the most emotional of the three [including the Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion]," said Dylan. "He wants a heart, but he already has a big heart."
He said it's nice being a main character and a fantasy creature that doesn't exist in real life because "it's a challenge." The toughest part, he said, is "walking like the Tin Man and imagining you've been rusted for a long time." And he said the audience will enjoy the show because of the "raw talent in the cast" and the singing abilities of the actors performing solos.
The Cowardly Lion is seventh-grader Andrew Harrington. He likes the role because he gets to "cry and whimper a lot," and his favorite scene is the poppy scene because he gets to fall down.
Uncle Henry is played by Zach Nordwall, 14. Describing Dorothy's uncle as a "nice, old man who takes care of the farm," he said his role is fun because "Uncle Henry can be very strict and yell at people, and I like to yell. And his lines are corny, but funny, so it's all good." The hardest thing for him, said Zach, is speaking with "a country accent that sounds reasonable."
Ashley Hamilton, 13, plays Dorothy's Auntie Em. "She's a poor person who doesn't get as much respect as she should," said Ashley. "She does her best for Dorothy and, sometimes, it's not enough. But she tries her hardest and does whatever she can."
Ashley's happy to play this role because "in all the other school plays, I played a boy." She also likes her part because "you never really notice Aunt Em in the movie but, playing her, you realize it's a challenging part. And you really learn to respect her more and know she should be noticed."