Musical celebrates 80th anniversary of Wizard of Oz

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Musical celebrates 80th anniversary of Wizard of Oz

Senior Kiana Resch casts as The Wicked Witch of the West in Wiz Cast.

Senior Kiana Resch casts as The Wicked Witch of the West in Wiz Cast.

Hannah Kilmas

Senior Kiana Resch casts as The Wicked Witch of the West in Wiz Cast.

Hannah Kilmas

Hannah Kilmas

Senior Kiana Resch casts as The Wicked Witch of the West in Wiz Cast.

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In the far away land of ruby slippers, yellow brick roads, talking animals and magical witches, an enchanted tale was told…and just in time for the 80th anniversary! Through Dorothy’s adventures in the Emerald City, her daytime snoozes with the mesmerizing poppies, her charming welcome with the merry munchkins and her creepy crawly dance fits with the jitterbugs, the Saint Viator stage was transformed to the mythical imagination of the Land of Oz, but of course not without the help of the hardworking (flying) monkeys.

Costume designer Kathie Kay Johnson conjured up some of her own witchcraft with her masterpiece creations. From her detailed handiwork on Ursula’s costume last year to the larger of the two lion’s costumes this year along with the outfits and dresses for the Ozians, Glinda’s crown, the Wizard and all the monkeys her and others from Grand Rapids Civic have helped characters captivate audiences in a spellbound awe. Johnson describes her lion project as “massively curly with two toned hair,” and like much of her other work, there are creative details for the careful observer.

“It is made from synthetic curly hair typically used in extensions. There are colors that range from light blonde to dark brown and are sewn to an under hood made from stretch fabric. They are sewn on every 1/4 inch. It is very difficult to maintain as it can get tangled pretty easily. The inspiration behind it was both the original Lion from the movies and photographs of actual lions,” said Mrs. Johnson.

Furthermore, the fluffy reality of Toto and the Tinman shining in all his metallic glory was brought to life by Mrs. Julie Reedy. Together, Mrs. Reedy and Mrs. Johnson restored the Tinman costumes from their original shape from previous years using the “creative boning of heavy duty zip ties and electrician fish tape.” Mrs. Johnson’s personal motto of “nothing is too outrageous” compliments the dazzling tribute to the Wizard of Oz’s legacy.

The production of the Wizard of Oz has its historic roots as a novel, published in 1900 and has had many wizardly adaptations, including a Broadway musical in 1902. The script used in this spectacle was adapted by the Royal Shakespeare Company and is based on the 1939 musical with Judy Garland. Though the Wizard of Oz is a timeless classic, senior Caroline Lavender as the glistening Glinda, expressed that this musical was uniquely different from productions in the past since it “required more acting and character development which were different from shows that were based heavily on singing. Therefore, actors needed to embrace their characters dynamically and wholeheartedly.” Another significant change in the last several years is the addition of paid professionals to the musical family as the majority of the musicians in the pit orchestra.

Throughout the chilling enchantments of the spooks in the ominous haunted forest, the tra-la-la’s of the marvelous munchkins, and through the melodic symphonies of the heavenly voices, the casts of the wondering world of Oz rallied together into what can always be described by cast members as a “second family.” The brave voice of the lion senior Will Walberg expressed that though the cast sizes appeared smaller than years past, the production enabled the “family oriented” vibe that is cherished by all trailing twisters, whimsical winkies, and squawking crows.

Senior Blaise Russo, as the hearty Tinman said, “I enjoyed musical a lot this year because it was a different role for me. I had never been a lead before and connecting more with actors and tech made this year one of my favorites.”

Whether you were a part of the lyrical harmonies of the lullaby league, the sweet-tooth legends of the lollipop guild, or the apple-tantrum of tapping trees, the Land of Oz had a home for every critter, courageous lion, loving tinman, and intelligent scarecrow alike.

“Everyone is playing a lot of different parts which allows them to employ a lot of different emotions,” said senior Colleen McMahon.

The magical duo of Mr. Tony Calzaretta and Mrs. Kate Costello agreed that the cast mass continues to be an extraordinarily special part of building the family environment among the casts. Throughout his fourteen years being involved with the productions here at Saint Viator, Mr. Calzaretta stated that “meeting new students and getting reacquainted with the musical veterans” is always his favorite part. Mrs. Costello expressed her gratitude for Father Bolser for presiding over the mass as a longtime supporter of the Saint Viator musicals. She says “the all-show Mass is the point where we really gel as a family. Seniors share their profound appreciation for the musical experience, and each other, and also give advice to underclass cast members, while expressing their gratitude for the chance to make so many new friends. Mr. Calzaretta recognizes that the favorite piece of advice given by upper cast members is to “stick with it because it goes so fast and you never expected that this group would become the second family that everyone talks about, and it truly doesn’t matter what grade you’re in because everyone spends time together.”

“Bonding with cast mates and not having to act to feel like they’re truly my friends is my favorite part,” said sophomore Sophie Limberakis as the delightful Dorothy.

Even though, the Emerald City closed its gates on the world of the Land of Oz on the Saint Viator stage, members of the musical and the community of fairytale lovers find themselves reaping the benefits of another successful production. Profits from the musical go towards improvements to the Jeuck Auditorium, which supports all the performing arts and whirling adventures to new lands and adventures to come. Proceeds from the bewitching Oz went graciously toward replacement and upkeep of items that would otherwise come out of the school’s overall budget, such as carpeting, lighting, microphones, and storage.

And so, as the curtain closed on the Land of Oz and the wizarding witchcraft that danced its way across the stage that took its audience back to the spellbound days of one of their favorite childhood fairytales, seniors found themselves taking their final bows and joining the legacy of thespians in a marvelously, wicked performance, somewhere over the rainbow.

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