On January 16th and 17th at Upper Dublin’s Performing Arts Theatre, the Senior Production of The Wizard of Oz was sold out every night, with nearly two thousand people coming to watch! Over the course of two months, the seniors have been actively involved with preparing the cast and crew for a production that has not been performed at Upper Dublin for nearly fifty years. The student director, Jessica Anninos, stated in her director’s note, “We felt the community would enjoy seeing The Wizard of Oz back on stage.”
There is no doubt that the community’s response was astounding; people were literally bursting through the doors, the lines spanned all the way out to the sidewalk and parking lots could not accommodate the amount of cars arriving. All of the children were extremely eager to get inside the theater and some even expressed their love of The Wizard of Oz by dressing up as the beloved character Dorothy. When entering the Performing Arts Theatre, the audience was welcomed with a yellow brick road, photos of the cast, dazzling lights and streamers draped along the walls. The decorations for the lobby were made possible by the heads of public relations, Gianni Cocchella, Annie Stohler, and their crew. The “Face in the Hole,” was painted by Amelia Camilo; it was a huge success, photos of it can be found through the hashtag udwoz16 (#udwoz16).
Opening the show, Sophie Gustafson (junior) as Dorothy beautifully sings the classic song, “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” When a cyclone rips through Kansas, Dorothy and her dog Toto, played by Maggie Mullen (who was a real dog!) are taken away to the magical land of Oz. The first scene of the show takes place in Munchkinland. There, Dorothy meets Glinda the Good Witch, performed by Morgan Weiss (junior), who tells her to follow the Yellow Brick Road toward the Emerald City in order to ask the Wizard of Oz played by Steven Aronow (senior) to bring her back home. Suddenly, Samantha Spirt (freshman) as the Wicked Witch of the West appears, demanding Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, only to learn that once someone owns the slippers, it belongs to them for life.
From then on, the Wicked Witch formulates many schemes in order to retrieve the slippers, like setting loose jitterbugs to get Dorothy to dance her way out of the ruby red slippers. En route to the Emerald City, Dorothy encounters a Scarecrow, played by Charlie Rudalavage (freshman), who expresses his desire for a brain. The audience was further amused by the three crows played by Sadie Gustafson (sophomore), Ana Weggel (sophomore) and Brian Wang (sophomore), whose caws and crows made the crowd laugh. Later on, Dorothy meets Charlie Griffin (junior) as the Tin Man at the Apple Orchard, where he reveals his dream of having a heart. Soon after, Dorothy confronts a Cowardly Lion, performed by Sam Caplan (sophomore), for trying to hound her dog, Toto. However, it is revealed that the Cowardly Lion is true to his name when he conveys his longing for courage.
When Dorothy and her new friends finally arrive at the gates of the Emerald City, the Wizard asks them to bring him the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West in order to receive his help. When Dorothy kills the witch and retrieves the broom, her and the Winkie Guards celebrate the witch’s death by happily singing “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead.” In the end, the Wizard of Oz gives the Scarecrow a diploma, the Lion a Medal, the Tin Man a testimonial, and for Dorothy he offers a hot air balloon ride back to Kansas. When Dorothy refuses to ride along with the Wizard, the Good Witch appears and tells Dorothy to tap her red slippers together three times and repeat the famous phrase, “There’s no place like home.”
Once Dorothy returns home, she realizes that the Land of Oz was merely a dream, not a place, and she learned to never run away from home because in the end, the only thing she wanted was to be at home with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, played by Morgan MacNaughton (junior) and Jesse Burak (junior), respectively.
The Wizard of Oz was truly spectacular and in my opinion it was one of the best shows produced by a Senior Production Staff. I would like to congratulate all the seniors for putting together a memorable show that will be praised for years to come. The seniors who made it possible for The Wizard of Oz to be performed at Upper Dublin High School are as followed: Jessica Anninos (director), Luda Gordinskiy (musical director), Emily Hershgordon (choreographer), Meaghan Reed (assistant director), Gabriella Bloom (assistant musical director), Amanda Warkow (assistant choreographer), Caroline Juelke (production manager), Lauren Kintzley (costume designer), Cynthia Wambua (assistant costume designer), Tara Monaghan and Olivia Speca (tech directors and stage managers), and Gianni Cocchella and Annie Stohler (public relations: publicity, programs, and box office). Kudos to Ms. Gerenyi for allowing the seniors to direct and organize the winter shows each year.
Members of the Senior Production Staff
If you missed out on the production of The Wizard of Oz, don’t fret; Upper Dublin High School Theatre Department presents Disney’s The Little Mermaid on April 7th and 8th at 7:30 p.m and April 9th at 2:00 p.m and 7:00 p.m at the Performing Arts Theatre. Buy your tickets early to secure your seat for the show before it is all sold out!
Questions and Answers from the cast of The Wizard of Oz:
- What was your favorite dance routine in The Wizard of Oz and why?
“Munchkinland because I have a special part that is so cute and the costumes are amazing.” – Tina Pfeffer, Lullaby League
- What was your favorite part of the show?
“My favorite part of the show is jitterbug cause [sic] it’s a big dance number with a lot of cool tricks within it.” – Mersha Wambua, Munchkin/Ozian
- What was your favorite song in The Wizard of Oz and why?
“I really like optimistic voices! It’s a gorgeous harmonic 30-second piece that literally is the turning point of the show!” – Sydney Quan, Munchkin/Ozian
- What was your favorite number in The Wizard of Oz and why?
“My favorite number was Jitterbug because of how fun and upbeat it was!” – Sadie Gustafson, Jitterbug/Winkie Guard
- What was your favorite costume (that you wore) and why?
“Well they’re all hot and itchy…but my favorite was probably my costume for the crows because I absolutely LOVED doing my makeup for it. We had this awesome black winged eye makeup and we made our noses look like beaks by outlining them! And instead of feather we had fur for our wings so it was easier to move! Ultimately, it was a pretty simple costume, but it let us have fun with the design!” – Ana Weggel, Crow/Jitterbug/Winkie Guard
- What lessons can the audience learn from the cowardly lion?
“The audience can learn that it’s okay to let your cowardly side show because sometimes that fear is what gets you what you want.” – Sam Caplan, Cowardly Lion/Zeke
- What was your favorite number in The Wizard of Oz and why?
“My favorite song is ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ because it really captures the essence of the show, and is overall just a beautifully written song! The entire play revolves around this wonder and I think that is amazing!” – Sophie Gustafson, Dorothy
Sophie Gustafson (junior) as Dorothy
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(All photographs are courtesy of Gianni Cocchella)