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There's No Place Like Upper Perkiomen High School
Written by Kelly Kalb, Correspondent
2014-03-12

 

Dorothy and the Scarecrow, played by Emily Barker, oils the Tin Man, Jack Donahue, after meeting him on her journey.

        After nearly six months of preparation, the Upper Perkiomen High School (UPHS) has set the stage for this year's rendition of the classic musical, "The Wizard of Oz."

 

A cast and crew of approximately 50 students, teachers and parents excitedly brought the imaginative Emerald City to life Wednesday afternoon in the high school's auditorium for a special Gold Card showing, which was free to seniors.           

        "The Wizard of Oz" has long been remembered as the 1939 film with the main character, Dorothy, being portrayed by Judy Garland. However, the commercial production was created following the 1900 release of L. Frank Baum's novel "The Wonderful World of Oz" which follows Dorothy and her dog, Toto, through a terrible tornado that essentially leads her to the colorful and confusing world of Oz.

        Dorothy's dream-like adventure finds her traveling down a yellow brick road to find the great and powerful Wizard who can grant her wish to return home. During her journey she meets three travelers: the Cowardly Lion, the heartless Tin Man and the Scarecrow with no brain. All are seeking something from the Wizard, and encounter many obstacles along the way.

        Alicia Cortese, production director and English teacher, and Assistant Director Colby Phillips, a social studies teacher, admit the production had its challenges but they welcome the demands of the entire process.

When choosing "The Wizard of Oz" as the featured musical, Cortese said, "First we wanted a show that all age groups would enjoy. Secondly, we knew we had the talent within the drama club to pull off the iconic roles and lastly, we really wanted to challenge ourselves and produce something technically ambitious."

With a performance of this magnitude, Cortese knew the show would be tough to pull off.

"We knew we were going to have to be very creative with over 140 costumes, 11 sets, and a plethora of special effects and lighting instruments," she said.

        The drama club was looking at a $14,000 budget for this production alone.  Royalties from last year's musical, in the amount of $4,000, helped out, but the club also sought out sponsors to purchase ad space within the production's program as well as donations, did fundraising and worked with volunteers for everything from set construction to creating costumes in order to fund the musical.             

        "This show has been incredibly fun from beginning to end," Cortese said, summing up the experience.  "Producing and directing a musical will always have its challenges but the Wizard of Oz has allowed us to imagine like children once again. It's just a delightfully fun and entertaining show for all ages."

         "This is my second year working with them (drama club)," said Jennifer Dancy, local dance studio owner and choreographer for the production.  "It's the best musical that the high school has done! Eleanor (King) is amazing as Dorothy, Emily (Barker) is so cute and funny as the Scarecrow, Jack (Donahue) and Dylan (Bortz) make the Tin Man and Lion come alive! A very hard-working ensemble."

        The majority of cast members are accustomed to performing on stage with previous high school productions under their belts such as "South Pacific," "Bye, Bye Birdie" and "Footloose."

        Emily Barker, a junior at UPHS who portrays the Scarecrow, explained, "This is the best production so far. The costumes are intense and I'm just proud to be a part of it."

        Senior Dylan Bortz, the Cowardly Lion, said he was most proud of "the cast coming together."

        The Wicked Witch of the West, senior Haley Stauffer, remarked, "Everyone that has been in the production has put in a lot of time and it is definitely worth coming to see. This is the best production yet."

        Overall, the cast and crew said they are overjoyed by the success of this year's musical. Even Rufus, the friendly pooch who plays Toto, excitedly gave a lick and a wag of his tail during the event.

        For Eleanor King, who portrays Dorothy, the fact that she is a senior this year is a bit bittersweet. 

"This has been an amazing experience," she said.  King, who has been singing since the third grade and has been cast in multiple productions throughout middle and high school, plans to attend college for television production with a minor in Music.

        "The Wizard of Oz" runs at UPHS March 13, 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. The children's show for ages 14 and under will be held March 16 at 2 p.m. General admission tickets are $8, children's show tickets are $5 and student tickets for Student Night on March 13 are $5.

 


 

 

 

 

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