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Column: WHS to present 'Wizard of Oz' next week

By JON LOY, District 518

WORTHINGTON — Next week, The Memorial Auditorium and Performing Arts Center will be transformed into the “Merry Old Land of Oz” as Worthington High School students, assisted by Prairie Elementary students, present the timeless classic, “The Wizard of Oz.”

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Celebrating 75 years of MGM movie history, the epic adventures, beloved musical scores and iconic moments, all come to life on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s script developed from the ever-popular screenplay and original book by L. Frank Baum. Produced through special arrangement with the Tams-Witmark Music Library of New York, music and lyrics are by Harold Arlen & E.Y. Harburg, with additional adaptation by John Kane.

The WHS production promises dazzling costumes, big production numbers, colorful sets, special effects/lighting and a few surprises along the way, as the yellow brick road leads us to Oz and we rediscover the real story to Oz in this fantastic musical treat for the entire family.

Production dates are Feb. 6-7-8 at 7:30 p.m. A matinée is offered on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 2:30 p.m. (Tickets may be bought at the door one hour prior to curtain —all seats are reserved.)

Click your heels together and join Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion as they journey off to see the Wizard through the magical Land of Oz. In their search for their heart’s desires, they encounter the inhabitants of Oz: munchkins, crows, trees, poppies, winkies, winged monkeys and a few directional witches. Together the WHS Oz production team has learned that no matter how far their journeys take them, there’s no place like home.

The cast, crew and pit orchestra of more than 100 students, are guided down the yellow brick road by Jessica Arnt as Dorothy; DJ Berger as the Scarecrow; Alex Purdy as the Tin Man; Orissa Nitibhon as the Cowardly Lion; Braden DeSmith as the Wizard; Annie Lesnar as Glinda the Good Witch; Ari Lopez as the Wicked Witch of the West; Patrick Burns as the Emerald City Gate Keeper and introducing Kokomo Schutte as Toto.

The production is led by senior student production assistants Sydney Burns and Renae VanDerLinden. The adult mentor program, now in its eighth year, offers musical theatre students special hands-on instruction and special insights into the inner workings of the theatre. ISD 518 sponsors the program for the school musical. This year’s mentors include Judie Wendt Johnson, set designer and scenic coordinator; Jacob Forstein, lighting designer and special effects coordinator; Eric Harp, Memorial Auditorium Technical Director and sound designer; Bryan Brandt, Axel Wass, Alex Ling and Alex Myrom, Master Carpenters; Pam Wendland, Costume Coordinator; Jen Smith & Stephen Woitalewicz, Hair Design and Make Up; Mary Drew, Guest Choreographer; Debra Moe, Munchkin Chorus Director; Kerry Johnson, Vocal Director and Pit Orchestra Leader; Jon Loy, Director, WHS All- School Musical and Tammy Makram, Memorial Auditorium Manager.

‘Pride Through Partnership’ offers special collaborative efforts and team work with parent volunteers working in the area of rehearsal/show accompanists, marathon meals during show week, advance ticket sales, show celebration planners, lobby decorations, costume sewers, set construction, rehearsal parents and more. Area schools and regional companies including Faribault HS, Sibley-Ocheyedan HS, Fulda HS, Music Theatre of Wichita, Memorial Auditorium — Worthington, FOTA, WHS Graphics Arts Class and local businesses have all continued their ongoing support of the WHS All-School Musical.

Special thanks and appreciation is extended to WHS Principal Paul Karelis, who offers the vision and opportunity for kids to explore, create and become leaders of tomorrow through high school activities of today. See you on the yellow brick road as the journey to Oz begins Feb. 6, 2014!

Jon Loy is in his 29th year of teaching and serves District 518 as WHS Trojan Band Director, WHS Music Department Chair and District 518 Music Curriculum Chair. He holds degrees in Music Education and Speech, Communication and Theatre Arts Education from Concordia College — Moorhead, MN (BA) and The University of Oregon School of Music (MME).