"The Wizard of Oz" Lands at Smithsburg High School

"The Wizard of Oz" Lands at Smithsburg High School
by Jennifer LB Leese

L. Frank Baum's "The Wizard of Oz," jumped off the pages of his book and landed straight into our lives. Dorothy's search for comforts of home is a need/want that transcends generations and will continue on for many more.
In a new production of the timeless classic, Smithsburg High School Drama Club and Boosters is presenting the live play on March 12, 13, 18, 19, and 20 at 7:30pm, with a matinee March 14 at 2pm at Smithsburg High School Auditorium, 66 North Main Street.
As one of the most well-known musicals from the 20th century, "The Wizard of Oz" inspired and captured the hearts of several generations. The colorful scenery, catchy and unforgettable songs, along with a cornucopia of imagination - ruby slippers, witches, wizards, flying monkeys, and cheerful munchkins, made the musical a favorite for many households.
"I chose the Wizard of Oz because it gives many students a chance to shine in a leading role. I have a lot of seniors and I want them to get the most out of their final performance on the stage," said Smithsburg High School Director Ruth Bradley. The play was based on budget, parent volunteers, and past shows the students have done in the past. "I want to give them a chance to do different types of shows."
There are six performances to give the students a chance to show of their hard work for two weekends. "I also give the understudies a chance to perform at a show. It is interesting to see how the play evolves from one weekend to the next," Bradley said.
Preparation is key. Being involved is like "riding a roller coaster". "The entire cast practices once per week for 4 weeks and twice a week for 2 weeks, and 4 times per week during tech week and the show. The leading characters rehearse twice as much for the first 6 weeks or so. Each rehearsal is about 3 hours in length," she said.
On Thursday, March 18 at 5pm, guests can join in a tradition of having "Dinner with the Characters". The spaghetti dinner is cooked by Cafeteria Manager Becky Anderson. "The sophomore class pairs up with drama to raise money for their account. They arrange the logistics of the dinner under the advisement of teacher Josh Cramer. Sophomore Ashley Spinks is head of the dinner committee," says Bradley. "The sophomore class gets $5.00 from the proceeds toward their sophomore account. They will be responsible for putting on the prom next year and for leaving a gift to the school when they graduate."
Cast members will serve the patrons dinner between 5 and 6:30pm. After the dinner, guests then have the opportunity to go on the stage and have their picture taken with their favorite characters. You will need to bring your own camera for this event.
Ruth Bradley teamed up with vocalist Sarah Barrett to direct a talented cast and crew of over 40. The production includes a top-notch set design, terrific props, and many colorful hand-made costumes lovingly constructed by our costume crew headed by parent Paulette Harvey. Dorothy, Toto and their new friends the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow go on an adventure to find the Emerald City. The performance will feature the classic songs, "Over the Rainbow", "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" and "Merry Old Land of Oz," among others.
"Even people who have seen the movie countless times will still enjoy the stage version because live theatre always brings a special feeling to the audience.
"The characters enter into a relationship with the audience. They are on the stage performing for their friends, neighbors, and family...their community. A performance is always better when you know the actors involved."
Demi Jacques, a junior and dedicated member of drama club for 3 years, plays Dorothy Gale, who was portrayed by Judy Garland in the movie. Joey Barvir and Tim Barr, both seniors, are participating in their 11th show on the SHS stage as the Scarecrow and Tin Man. Sophomore Jack Nehemias plays the Cowardly Lion, his second leading role here at Smithsburg. Additionally, Maggie Rishell, also a senior, and attending Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, will fill the role of Student Music Director.
Shannen Banzhoff is playing wicked witch. "Her mother also played the wicked witch in her younger years at Henry's Dinner Theatre, which is now Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. I guess it runs in the family," said Bradley.
Many of the students aspire to make this a career. "The ones who are serious about it attend Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. Those students are able to participate in our show in addition to the show at Barbara Ingram. One student who attends Barbara Ingram is our student music director. She would like to be a music educator one day and this is the perfect opportunity for her to use her skills."
Your $7 ticket will go far, ($12 for the dinner and show). Proceeds help defray the cost of costume construction, set construction, royalties, makeup, special effects, and sound and lights. "We always barely break even," Bradley said.
There are about 500 seats per night. Help fill them up by calling 301-766-8336 or send an email to Ms. Bradley at bradlrut@wcboe.k12.md.us to reserve your tickets today!
With the iconic portrayals such as the tornado, the horse of many colors, and the flying monkeys, being "top secret", this show is sure to be a winner!