As Dorothy Gale learned in The Wizard of Oz, there truly is “no place like home.” But sometimes, when it comes to seeking out something fun for the family to do, we overlook what we can find right in our own backyard. And this weekend we need look no further to find family entertainment (and at a very reasonable cost) than the New Paltz Middle School Drama Club production of The Wizard of Oz.
There will be two evening shows, on Friday and Saturday, February 27 and 28 at 7 p.m., and two afternoon matinees, on Saturday, February 28 and Sunday, March 1 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $5 and are available at the door. Performances will be in the school auditorium at 196 Main Street.
The Young Performers’ Edition of The Wizard of Oz is an adaptation of the original, tailored for the talents of ‘tweens and young teens and running about an hour and a half in length. Some of the songs are shortened a bit, but the storyline stays pretty true to the beloved film version that most of us are familiar with, and the production even includes “The Jitterbug,” a catchy song-and-dance routine that was regrettably cut out of the 1939 MGM movie.
The show features 123 students in its cast, crew and ensemble, quite a leap from the drama club’s production six years ago of Annie with 35 in the cast, said Mary Holmes, director and producer of both shows. Holmes is also a Spanish teacher at the middle school, but her first degree was in theater, and she’s directed school theatrical productions for more than 20 years. She said she was attracted to putting this show on because of “all the great parts in it” and because the kids know it and enjoy it so much.
All of the students who auditioned for The Wizard of Oz are eligible for the ensemble even if they didn’t get a primary part, said Holmes. And worth noting, she added, the show is the only school activity that involves sixth, seventh and eighth graders together, with almost one-third of the New Paltz Middle School student population involved in the production in one way or another.
Ticket sales, program ads and proceeds from a bake sale support the entire show, paying for “all the expenses you would expect from a show this size,” Holmes said; costumes, set pieces, rental fees for the sound system, script and licensing royalties and cast and crew t-shirts. “We won’t charge more than $5 per person, however, because we want to encourage families to come.”
Students auditioned back in November, and have been rehearsing after school every day and some weekends for almost three months now. “The leads are here every day,” Holmes said. “It’s an intense commitment for the students.” The ensemble rehearses at least once a week. “We have student singers, dancers, actors, students running the lights and sound equipment, a student crew moving sets and student and professional artists designing and painting sets. We also have many involved parents and New Paltz Middle School staff who all work together to make this show a success.”
Choreography is by Holmes and Nicole DeNome, costume design by Heidi Maguire and set design by Tenney Gravatt. Laura Van Etten serves as assistant director, Scott Millici is music director and Mark Pizzarello lends his talents in set building. Props master is Portia Cozzolino.
Eighth grader Kiah Saxe plays Dorothy. The rest of the cast, crew and ensemble includes Safina Amjad, Jordan Balin, Emily Barbato, Eliza Behrke, Rebecca Bendell, Olivia Benedict, Lindsey Brenner, Noah Brown, Corinne Bunt, Seamus Cannon, Andie Carroll, Brayton Cecil, Vivian Chesky, Hannah Christianna, Josh Clinton, Malcom Condon, April Cook, Jamishay Cormann, Michelangelo Cozzolino, Trevor Crofton, Jaoquin Crosby-Lizarde, Ruthie Crosby-Lizarde, Alex Cymbal, Alex Demis, Olivia DePuy, Jude Desmery, Grace Dixon, John Dixon, Stephanie Dobosh, Connor Domitrovits, Rory Domitrovits, Jessica Dugatkin, Lexi Eisenhard, Alex Engel, Beef Feshold, Damion Fielding, Riley Finnegan, Noah Fishman, Angelina Forte, Julius Forte, Anika Friedman, Talia Friensod, Andrew Geher, Katie Geisler, Alana Gerber, Marley Gertler, Alina Gorney, Abbey Gravatt, Josie Gravatt, Maya Greenfield, Jason Harding, Madison Harp, Ceci Harris, Keaton Hemminger, Alex Hill, Patrick Hono, Caitlin Hulbert, Jack Hyland, James Hyland, Queen Irving, Willamena Jackson, Ryan Kelso, Mark LaBorde, Samantha Landrum, Will Lawrence-Paine, Anne Lemek, Alexi Levits, Logan Linares, Lianna Maley, Kyle Mast, Kylie Matson, Erin McAllister, Deena McGarvey, Ainslee McMahan, Madeleine McMahan, Madison McPadden, Maggie Melanson, Michael Messina, Kevin Metzger, Ariel Montero, Arianna Moore, Zaky Musso, Sean Neilson, Kayla Newman, Ashlyn O’Hara, Cate Osterweil, Amina Oukili, Marta Pankowska, Devi Patel, Jay Patel, Quinn Ratynski, Rachel Reinking, Ariana Rodriguez, Azalea Russilon, Christina Rust, Ava Sarubbi, Calla Savelson, Nicole Schofield, Renae Scoppa, Harper Serringer, Samantha Shane, Aidan Sheedy, Mikayla Simmons, Ella Skye-Franks, Emilia Stacy, Emily Stettner, Ryan Stryker, Cormac Stutzman, Ashley Thacker, Paulina Trifilo, Zofia Trizewik-Quinn, Francesca Varriano, Keegan Veeder, Samantha Vos, Aracely Watson, Jacob Weinstein, Rhys Weires, Emilyn Wheeler, Kira Wheeler, Paris White, Emily Wong-Pang, Shaylin Wexler and Nick Zaccheo. ++