Few moments in history contain the same amount of excitement and wonder that exists when Dorthy first open her door to Oz. The freedom from the burdens of life is exactly what every film or play hopes to give to its audience, and within the Wizard of Oz, this emotion is received in abundance. When WCI’s Drama department opted to work towards putting this story onto the stage in this year’s production, it was clear that this same hope of eliciting escapism existed not only for the audience but for the actors and all those working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure a smooth transition of emotion.
It’s become an annual milestone of the school year for a production to be put on at the beginning of December after beginning development from before September even rolled around. In the past, Drama at WCI would be a collection of productions that included Concept and Multi on top of the production, swapping annually; yet now, the first semester is clearly set for the production and nothing else, with multi coming later along the calendar. This shift has allowed for nothing less than stunning shows of the highest quality, giving the ability for larger and deeper stories to be explored within the restrictions a school production may find itself within.
Previously, the productions have been of a somber and tragic nature, with West Side Story and Macbeth bringing forth complex emotion that required the actors to bear their heart open and to explore sides of themselves never seen. A consistent force in the department and current co-director of WoZ, Sarah Miller, reiterated the difficulties found within these shows, stating: “Both of those plays were extremely sad, and once you have to get into that headspace, even for a few hours, it would leave you down and just as sad for the rest of the day.” Instead now, both the audience and crew are filled with an energy of positivity and escapism, a moment brief apart from the dulls and downs of society. Miller even went even went on to emphasize this by stating that the only issue with WoZ is, “The perpetual happiness of the songs is irritating by the end of a rehearsal.”
The production itself is ramping up to become of, if not the most, technically and prop intensive shows ever put on at WCI. All must look to perfection to truly capture the escapist feel Dorthy feels as she exists her door; Oz, being a fantasy land wonderland, requires meticulous attention to detail with every aspect of the show, whether that be Gilda’s bubbles, the Tornado, or the eye-popping yellow brick road that leads the heroes on their journey.
Longtime actress Brianna Whey hinted that “people should look forward to the flying monkeys, they’re not only in full body costume and makeup but also have realistic wings and are going to be a huge crowd pleaser.” There’s no doubt the production will pull of the details needed to suck everyone into the land of OZ. Though, after the show has ended, after the months of hard work by members new and veteran, there will be a drama department different from that 10 or even 5 years ago, for the entire department has shifted into a new staple within the school culture.
As a whole, this production signals a moment where WCI drama is on par and as anticipated as any other extracurricular in the school. Students anticipate opening day and see it as an important event in the year, more so than just an arts show happening in the background. Over the years, with all the difficult work and high standards being set, WCI Drama has proved to be a staple showing of the schools diverse talents and an undeniable milestone of the year.
With such a growth and such a cementing of itself within the WCI community, the department has certified an essential portion of the modern school environment won’t go unnoticed. It’s always easy to dismiss arts within the school as unessential beside sports and STEM, but the recent productions have proved that without such arts growth, a school can’t provide for all within its walls and can’t label itself as an institution for excellence. More than just a good show, these productions a representing of the good that comes from supporting a school’s arts, and the importance in igniting the flame of creativity within students.
Wizard of Oz will be running Thursday the 29th at 6 pm, Friday the 30th at 7 pm, and December 1st at 7 pm. Tickets are $10 dollars for students and $15 for adults.