Few moments contain the same amount of excitement and wonder as when Dorothy first opens 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 put this iconic piece 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 major production at the end of November. Work begins before school starts. In the past, Drama at WCI would be a pair of variety shows called Concept and Multi and another production slotted in where it would fit. Now, the first semester is clearly set for the production and nothing else, with Arts And Culture Festival coming later in the spring. This shift has allowed for full scale orchestra musicals of the highest quality, and the ability for larger and deeper stories to be explored.
The previous two productions have been more somber and tragic in nature, with West Side Story and Macbeth bringing forth complex issues such as race and mental health that required the actors to bear their heart 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 nostalgia, a brief moment 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 one of, if not the most, technically and production design intensive shows ever put on at WCI. All must look to perfection to truly capture the wonderment Dorothy feels as she exits her door; Oz, being a fantasy land , 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 Wey 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 look forward to 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.