Drama club to take audiences to the land of Oz

Woodland Regional High School students Amanda Neff, left, and Riley Clark rehearse a scene from the drama club’s upcoming production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Monday at the school in Beacon Falls. Neff is playing Dorothy and Clark is playing the Scarecrow in the production, which opens May 18 at Woodland. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland Regional High School drama club wants to take audiences somewhere over the rainbow next weekend with its production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

The show opens May 18 at 7 p.m. with encore performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. May 19 at the school.

“This show is a classic and very nostalgic. It will bring back memories. It is something that will be enjoyable for the cast and audience,” said senior Jacob Marks, who plays the Cowardly Lion.

The story, which was originally written by Frank L. Baum and adapted for the stage by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams, follows a young girl named Dorothy as she is swept from her home in Kansas to the world of Oz.

The school has built a reputation for performing classic musicals, having previously done shows such as “Grease,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Director Susan Cinoman said the drama club settled on “The Wizard of Oz” this year because she wanted “a big audience pleaser” similar to the club’s production of “Grease.” The show also promises to have some surprises for the audience, she said.

“We wanted to find something that would appeal to all ages in the community and would be well known and beloved,” Cinoman said. “We couldn’t think of anything better than ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”

Although snow days set the drama club back some early on, senior Brennan Cummings said the cast is working hard to make sure the show comes together.

“We definitely had to condense the amount of time to spend on music and to spend on lines. But everyone is working really hard to get everything all set. It is the quickest show we have put together and definitely one of the most ambitious,” said Cummings, who plays the Tinman.

Playing iconic and beloved characters can present a challenge to the cast, said senior Amanda Neff, who plays Dorothy.

“Taking on this character that is so well known is definitely a lot to think about because you don’t want to let people down,” she said.

In order to bring the character to life, Neff is focusing on what makes her and Dorothy similar.

“I feel like I relate to Dorothy on a personal level because she is very caring and understanding and she worries about her friends,” Neff said.

Junior Riley Clark, who plays the Scarecrow, a character known for being slightly goofy and forgetful, said he already embodies some of his character’s traits.

“He is just like me, so it is basically method casting,” Clark said.

Sophomore Mary Pelkey, who has been dancing for six years and won a Halo Award for choreography for her work on last year’s production of “Guys and Dolls,” is back as choreographer for the show.

Just before calling the cast together at rehearsal this week to practice the jitterbug, a dance popularized in the early 20th century, Pelkey was finalizing the routines. She said the cast is ready to impress.

“We are just cleaning it up now. I think everybody is going to pull it together and it is going to be a great show,” Pelkey said.