The wonderful world of the Wizard of Oz

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By ElyseTrendell | reporter

 

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” Dorothy said.

Perhaps Dorothy was not expecting to find herself in the Marshfield auditorium.

“Now I know we’re not in Kansas,” Dorothy said.

Next weekend, the MHS drama program will be performing L. Frank Baum’s musical “The Wizard of Oz.” This will be the first time since the 1996 production of “Phantom” the program will perform a musical.

The 34 members of cast and crew include junior Ally Putas as Dorothy, senior Nathan Fox as the Scarecrow, senior Michael Stephens as the Tin Man, junior Quentin Kirk as the Cowardly Lion, sophomore Katie Boesl as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, senior Logan Chard as the Wicked Witch of the West, and junior Thomas Ledesma as the Great Oz.

Musicals tend to come with established characters the audience has grown up to know and recognize. Director and English teacher Kelly Haut said that the musical will be similar to the movie.

“With musicals the characters are very well established already,” Haut said.

Along with the drama department, the band and the choir are involved as well. Choir director Tony Baker assisted Haut with the auditions for the play and helped the actors and actresses with their vocal pieces throughout the production. The production will include a three-piece instrumental accompaniment consisting of piano playing by pianist and Rachel Palin, bass guitar played by senior Brennan Warren and drums played by senior David Walters.

Junior Carlee Christoferson is a costume mistress for “The Wizard of Oz” and looks forward to the upcoming play.

“This is our first musical in a long time, so it’s really awesome that we get to use the auditorium and that we get to present it to the community,” Christoferson said.

The roles from “The Wizard of Oz” have been seen by millions across America. This means much of the creativity from the director comes out in the costumes and sets, which are all handmade.

Haut does most of the sewing but has help from others, including Christoferson and her grandmother. Sets are put together by the cast who are put into groups for each of the settings. Chard helped put together the witch’s castle.

“Set design is probably the most time consuming of everything,” Chard said. “There are so many different platforms and props that go into it.”

All of the materials come with expenses and “The Wizard of Oz” is no exception. Haut estimates the musical is going to cost $8,360. The drama students are fundraising for this with advertisements as well as acknowledgments from parent to student in the program which will be distributed at performances.

“Phantom” was a leap for the drama program back in 1996 and took ample work. MHS was the first high school to perform “Phantom” (not to be confused with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera”). Wayne Meichsner, a 1997 MHS graduate, played the part of the Phantom in the production. The show was a success within the community as well as in the school but was not achieved without effort or commitment.

“I was in choir and enjoyed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music,” Meichsner said. “I liked all the sets. They went all out. I liked all the effort, just the atmosphere.”

Like “Phantom,” the cast and crew members of “The Wizard of Oz” have put a lot of time into perfecting their work while still being involved with other extracurricular activities, including band, choir, winter sports, Mr. MHS and forensics. Students juggle multiple commitments in order to prepare for opening night.

Stephens is involved in swimming, participating in forensics and is a Mr. MHS contestant in addition to his role in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“I try to find as much spare time as I can,” Stephens said. “I usually take weekends to just decompress because I’m really busy during the week.”

The show will be making its debut on Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. and will continue each evening at that same time until Dec. 22. Tickets will cost $5 for students and $8 for adults and can be purchased at the door.

The cast is working diligently to be ready for the first show, and Haut believes the key to a successful show is for the students to know it is not about competition, but about learning.

“It’s about appreciating art,” Haut said. “My goal is just to have a successful show, and have my students have the best experience that they could possibly have.”