Theater department gears up for ‘Oz’

The West Shore Performing Arts Company is preparing for the classic all-school musical ‘The Wizard of OZ,’ which it will perform on Oct. 20-23.

“You have to be able to see it in your head first,” Director Maureen Fallon said about preparing for the musical.

Even before the auditions Fallon had an idea of who she wanted to play certain parts. She had Adam Davidson in mind for the Scarecrow and Joel Wadzinski, as Tin Man, because they had the experience for the characters. They’re both gymnasts and Davidson is a dancer. Fallon also planned to have Erika Caliari play Dorothy and Justin Mehlich play the Cowardly Lion because “he pretty much plays everything,” she said.

Fallon said preparing the performers for the musical is a process. Before telling the characters where to stand, she gets the students familiar with the music. They start out by reading the words and learning melodies for songs; the dancers learn steps, and actors learn their lines. Then they incorporate the characters in their performance.

“It takes a while for people to get into character and learn their responsibilities,” Fallon said.

Senior Michaela Vine, who plays Glenda the Good Witch, says that because the musical is a classic, it makes putting on the production more difficult than past musicals they have done. To her, trying to act like the characters in the movie is the hardest part.

“I mean, we’ve done a lot of classics, but this is the Wizard of OZ,” she said.

Fallon agrees. She says the characters have to be the same as in the movie because everyone has seen it. The audience already knows what it wants to see before it arrives.

Though students work to be as close to the original classic, they also have fun at rehearsals.

“[It’s] always kind of fun, no matter what part you have. Everyone’s really nice and it’s just really fun,” sophomore Michelle Smith said.

Getting to meet new people, making friends, and being able to talk to people you don’t normally talk to, like upper classmen, is the most exciting part for her, she added.

Vine says the rehearsal process is the most exciting part of taking part in the musical and that she likes seeing how everyone becomes their characters.

“The performance is fun, but the rehearsal is definitely the best part,” she said.

To prepare themselves for a performance, the cast does an exercise called lion-face lemon-face. They roar and make sour faces as a few cast members call out “Lion Face! Lemon Face!” getting faster and faster each time until the cast is pumped for the performance.

But they also prepare themselves individually. Smith says she listens to music, dances around, and “[We] scream a lot, I guess,” she said.

Vine points out that there is so much preparation at rehearsals, that when it comes time they’re ready. “Just get ready, go on, and do it,” she said.

Students spend hours working on dance routines, singing songs and learning lines. When asked how much time they spend on the musical, Vine laughs. “All I can say is a lot, I’d count it if I could, but I can’t!”

Every Saturday the cast and crew practice for five hours at the school auditorium, and every day after school during tech week.

By Emily Dubec-Hunter