The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Words: Paul Didwall

Photos: Caitlin Maritn

It seems that one of the worst insults to give a production of any type is to comment on how good it was – and then say “for a high school performance.” Fortunately, the Centennial Theater’s production of The Wizard of Oz did not appear as a high school production. The cast alone gave the spring musical a professional appearance, and the intelligently designed sets added the finishing touches.

Of the five public showings of The Wizard of Oz – March 21-23 at 7 PM, March 23 at 2 PM, and March 24 at 3 PM – three were sold out completely.

Upon entering the packed auditorium, the guest were greeted by the incredibly talented pit orchestra. Then when seven o’clock finally arrived, the main lights dimmed once, and the auditorium went dark just a few moments later.

Centennial’s Theatre Department took a different approach to backdrops this time around. In all the previous plays, musicals, and other performances I have seen at CHS, the scenes were decorated by a few generic backdrops that changed a few times throughout the performance. In many cases, these backgrounds were fine, as they applied to the various scenes. The Wizard of Oz had many frequent scene changes, which were dealt with by projecting various backdrops at the back of the stage, as needed. What really set this method over the top was the ability to include a degree of animation in the scenes. A twister actually appeared on the screen, and Dorothy – played by Anne Marie Demme – had the thoughts that occurred during her trip to Munchkinland spiral on the backdrop.

A slightly unexpected addition to the musical was the participation of an actual dog. Honest expectations for Toto were a stuffed animal, so the actual terrier was a nice surprise, and really set the show apart.

Flight has been a theme in previous CHS productions, yet has never appeared to the same caliber as it did in The Wizard of Oz. It is widely known that The Wizard of Oz involves lots of flight, so the theatre department incorporated it. When Glinda, played by Jillian Loeffler, arrived on stage, she was flying – as witches do. The same was true for Sarika Reddy, the West Witch, when she appeared to learn of her sister’s death. The flying entrance of the two witches became the norm through the play, but another flight addition was added later. The flying monkeys also flew on to stage when trying to capture Dorothy.

Overall, the 2013 Spring Musical was possibly one of the best performances I have seen at CHS to date. It is wonderful that the entire theatre department – actors, stage crew, flight crew, a/v crew – always excite and impress the audience with their performances.

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