TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Local students and community members are off to see the wizard Friday and Saturday, as Tahlequah Middle School will present "The Wizard of Oz" in the Performing Arts Center.

The audience can expect to be surprised with some elements of the musical.

"It's an effects-heavy show for us, with the witch melting and reappearing, and the fun things in Munchkinland," said David Fuller, drama teacher. "It's an exciting presentation for the kids to be involved with."

Among other props and equipment being used are a fog machine, colored lights, a confetti cannon, and projected images, including parts of the 1939 movie.

"I think it's a pretty cool production. It's the first one I know of where we're using a fog machine and big effects," said seventh-grader Lilly Castro.

The students have only had six weeks of rehearsal. Lilly plays Dorothy, and she got her script earlier than the rest of the cast. She learned her lines in about three weeks, and is excited about the shows.

"Munchkinland is really fun. I also like the opening scene where I am talking with Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. They're really good actors," Lilly said at Thursday's rehearsal. "The whole cast is ready to put on the shows."

The cast has 50 students, and 10 others are working backstage.

The TMS students in the cast and crew are not the only ones working to stage the show. Tahlequah High School theater students are helping with the sets and backstage, as well as assisting as ushers. The TMS audio-visual students recorded the video for the Wizard of Oz projection part.

"It involves the entire district. We make it a true theater production across all sites," said Fuller. "The elementary students are the first ones to see it Friday morning. It truly affects everyone."

Fuller said one reason they decided to produce "The Wizard of Oz" is because it is the 80th anniversary of the film.

"We love it because it's so timeless. Everyone remembers seeing it at one time or another," said Fuller.

He also has a personal connection to the play.

"The first time we did it was 19 years ago with Tahlequah Community Playhouse, for a summer show. At the time, we had baby munchkins, and they were my daughters and other people's kids. Now, 19 years later, my daughter's son will be in the show," said Fuller.

The play's script is based directly off the film.

"The dialogue, the music - everything people recognize," said Fuller.

Emily Searce, grade 8, plays the Wicked Witch of the West, which requires her to wear green face paint. She said it doesn't take too long to apply the paint, but she was nervous about getting it off. She enjoys the character, though.

"I play a lot of evil characters because they are fun," Emily said. "You can act like you can't in real life."

Seventh-grader Aiden Root tried out for the musical just for fun.

"I like to sing. I like 'The Wizard of Oz' in general," said Aiden, who plays the Scarecrow. "I like the Lion's 'If I Were King.'"

Aiden said the biggest challenge is remembering the lines, but he seemed confident the community will like the show.

"If they come, I think they'll enjoy it," he said.

You're invited

"The Wizard of Oz" will be presented Friday morning and afternoon for Tahlequah students, and Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. in the Tahlequah Schools Performing Arts Center, 591 Pendleton St. Admission to the evening shows is $2 for students, and $5 for adults.


Gourd writes for Tahlequah Daily Press, a CNHI News Service publication.

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