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The Land of Oz at Belleville Henderson

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BELLEVILLE — Students at Belleville Henderson Central School are eager to demonstrate their magic as they prepare to stage “The Wizard of Oz” on Friday and Saturday.

“People describe our school as small but we can give off a lot of energy in a wonderful production every year,” said junior Jake H. Allen, who plays the lion. “We always pull it off.”

Vocal music teacher Renee M. Scherer, who directs “The Wizard of Oz,” said she selected the musical because she wanted to involve younger students in the district. There’re more than two dozen Munchkins, fourth-and-fifth graders, in the musical. There’re also 20 students in the musical’s chorus ranging in grades from 6 to 12.

“It’s a large cast for a small school,” she said.

According to Tams-Witmark Music Library Inc., which is the licensing agent for the play, a stage version of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” based on the 1939 motion picture, was first presented at the Municipal Theatre of St. Louis in 1942.

A second version with book adaptations by John Kane, which followed the movie more closely, was presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican Centre in London in 1988.

All feature the famous movie songs such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “If I Only Had a Brain” and “We’re Off to See the Wizard.”

Music and lyrics are by Harold Arle and Edgar Y. Harburg.

The plot centers on Dorothy, played by Jenta White. Dorothy, after a tornado, finds herself in Munchkinland, home of the Munchkins and the spot where she meets her famous cohorts. Besides the Lion, there’s the Scarecrow and the Tin Man.

“Families will recognize a lot in it,” said Jake. “But there’s a few extra scenes that weren’t in the movie that will add a twist to it.”

“There’s one or two songs that aren’t in the movie,” said sophomore Elizabeth A. Scherer, who plays the Scarecrow.

Elizabeth, a sophomore, has been in five productions at the school.

“Even though there’s not a lot of us, we all come together and make it pretty great,” she said.

Other main characters in the musical are Karen Fargo as the Tin Man; Kristia Otey as Glinda the Good Witch of the North; Tiffani Remington as the Wicked Witch of the West; Tyler Bast as the Gatekeeper and Nathan Contino as the Wizard.

The musical’s pit band is led by Daniel D. Osborne, president of DOCO Quick Print. He’ll be at the piano. Four alumni of Belleville Henderson will be on supporting instruments.

the details
WHAT: The Belleville Henderson Music Department presents “The Wizard of Oz.”
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Belleville Henderson Central School auditorium, 8372 County Route 75, Belleville.
COST: $6 for adults and $3 for students.
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