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November 14, 2013

Photos, Video, Story: Lincoln High to present ‘Wizard of Oz’

NEW CASTLE — Ellwood City Lincoln High School will take you “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with its annual “spring musical in the fall.”

The production of “The Wizard of Oz” runs tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday for a total of four performances in the high school auditorium.

 The “spring musical in the fall” has been a longstanding tradition at Ellwood City High. The reasons are rather self-explanatory. With all other high school musicals in the spring, people are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of shows. Doing a fall musical sets them apart from everyone else. The second and more practical reason for the tradition is that students have less conflict in their schedules, making more kids available.

This production of “The Wizard of Oz” has a lot to live up to. It comes on the heels of last year’s highly successful and vocally challenging “Les Miserables,” which packed audiences and raised the bar of expectations for what Ellwood City High School is capable of doing. But this year’s cast recognizes that challenge and promises to live up to it.

“Our directors pick shows based on the cast,” says Michael Butchelli, 17, who plays the Cowardly Lion, “And we have the perfect cast, but it’s our directors that make the biggest difference. They have directed this show three or four times. They know it inside and out.”

Butchelli says it has been his dream to play the Lion ever since he was in first grade, when he played a munchkin in the last production of “Wizard” done by Lincoln.

Dorothy Gale, is played by 16-year-old junior Marina Thetford. She explains how the stage play differs from the popular 1939 movie, which will celebrate its 75th anniversary next year.

“A lot of the characters are more interesting,” she said. “The witches have a lot more character. And there is a whole song, ‘The Jitterbug’ that is not in the movie.”

Junior Allena Kucan, who plays the wicked witch, agrees. “The witch is a lot more evil than I expected, but she is also a lot funnier in the musical.”

Junior Lori Rectenwald plays Glinda the Good Witch. She describes Glinda as very, pretty, prim and proper. She’s pretty much awesome and I see that in me.,” said Rectenwald with a self-deprecating chuckle.

Another actor who sees a lot of himself in his character is freshman Joey Cortez, 14, who plays the Scarecrow. He is alone among his fellow cast mates in that he has not seen the movie, but says in a lot of ways the Scarecrow is him in real life.

“He’s kind of a stupid, funny, smiley guy everyone wants to be, that’s me,” he said.

Junior Patrick Freed, who plays the tin man, said he is drawing heavily on the influence of the movie for his character.

“The movie is a prime example of how the characters ought to be.” His goal he says is to live up to that legacy.

The Wizard is played by 16-year-old junior Andrew Short. Like Cortez, Short sees a lot of himself in the character.

“The wizard means well, but he is somewhat lazy and a trickster. I am that person. I am a humbug!” he said with a laugh.

 The seven aforementioned leads had roles in nearly 50 shows before “Wizard,” including several key roles in last year’s “Les Mis.” That experience and the nearly three months of rehearsal bodes well for a production which will feature 85 munchkins from the elementary and 35 other high schoolers in the cast. The show features witches and monkeys that really fly, and a full student orchestra which will raise the quality even higher.

When asked if they had any final message, several students chimed in together “Come see it! We promise you a great show! This is a show you don’t want to miss!”

 

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