The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

Theater is following the yellow brick road to produce their next play, The Wizard of Oz


Lauryn Hughes | arts editor

The theater department is following the yellow brick road to produce the Wizard of Oz as their big musical this year.

“It’s a beloved play, it’s something everyone knows. It’s [also] fantasy which is really fun. It’s got a lot of elements in it that really stretch the technicians, that stretch the performers, and stretch the customers and dancers, it’s just a really good avenue for my students and for us to explore and step outside of our boundaries,” theater teacher Megan Thomson said.

The process of producing this play started with auditions for the roles.

“It’s always so hard, casting is so difficult. It’s a multistep process, we have auditions that everyone is welcome to attend for all musicals where they sing for 30 seconds of any song they want and do one of the prepared monologues. From that we whittle it down to callbacks, people are called back for specific characters, there’s also a dance part of that audition and then from there myself, Mr. Asterman, Ms. Brown, Ms. Hester, and Ms. Jones Wiesel, whose our student teacher and a couple other people all sit together in a room with a choreographer as well we just started to sort of figure it out. It took a while, it’s a very complicated process,” Thomson said.

Students were assigned to roles of every kind. From a flying monkey or a main character like Dorothy.

“I was not really expecting it. For freshman and sophomore year I was thinking, ‘I’m going to wait for my time, I might get a big role later on’, so I put a lot of energy into auditioning for this. This was the only play that I was super focussed on this year and I got it. I was super excited, all my family is so proud of me. My sisters do musical stuff too, so it’s just in the genes I guess,” junior Livia Peterson.

Or a villain like the Wicked Witch of the West.

“It’s fun, it’s cool. I’m excited because I like playing bad guys, those are usually the characters that I play,” senior Natalia Martin said.

From casting the theater department moves onto learning lines and start to get into character.

“I use my physicality and stuff. Usually the makeup and costume kind of help getting into it. Yesterday I got painted for the first time, the green. It was cool, I finally got to be like ‘oh this is what it feels like.’ We got to take a lot of photos, you know the Wicked pose, we took a bunch of pictures like that,” Martin said.

The movies are a huge resource for the students to connect with their characters.

“I watched the movie and there’s different characters of Dorothy that I could play. I could either be really little or more of the older Julie Garland Dorothy. I kind of go with the middle not immature but not too mature, I kind of get in the middle,” Peterson said.

Theater has been working on the play since last year.

“We started rehearsals back in December to start learning all the music and then in the beginning of this year we started learning choreography and started doing blocking rehearsals,” sophomore Jacob Anderson said.

Some modifications have been made to make the play work with the resources that the department has.

“There’s a few, this is a play based on a movie, so there’s a lot of things that the movie can do super easily but we have a challenge to do, for example, they’re supposed to fly. We are not flying them because that would be doable but incredibly expensive, it would cost 10,000 dollars to fly people. You have to get a whole company to come in, they build the apparatuses and work them themselves, that was an expense we weren’t prepared to handle. So instead we have to do a whole bunch of other things to make the illusion of flight. For example, Glinda glides in on a platform that is hidden behind another platform so look as if perhaps she is flying in. There’s monkeys who have all of these climbing structures so they can have lots of height to them even though they aren’t flying monkeys,” Thomson said.

Along with structural adjustments, theater has made changes when it comes to Dorothy’s dog, Toto.

“We’ve also had to modify a lot when it comes to Toto. In the movie Toto does a lot of things, he reveals the wizard, he barks of command and we are having a live dog playing Toto, which is amazing, but I don’t necessarily know how to get this live dog to bark on command or to pull a curtain without lots and lots of tries. This is not a film where I can be like go Toto, oh no, that’s not right go again and oh that works lets use that shot. So instead we’ve done a little bit of creative line cutting where other things instead of Toto barking make our characters realize somethings happening, other people pulling the curtain aside, and Toto is there and cute, adorable, and a plot device but it doesn’t have to be a really intelligent dog who does things on command,” Thomson said.

Overall the play is said to be coming together and worth seeing.

“It’s a little bit messy but I think we’ll get it together. We still have a lot of building work to do and we just finished blocking yesterday so I think it’ll look good,” Anderson said.

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Theater is following the yellow brick road to produce their next play, The Wizard of Oz