MACEDONIA — The Drama Club at Nordonia High School hopes people will follow the yellow brick road to the school and watch "The Wizard of Oz" April 12 through 14.
The musical, based on "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum and the 1939 MGM movie starring Judy Garland, tells the well-known story of farm girl Dorothy Gale, who suddenly finds herself in the colorful land of Oz.
"Oz is such a classic story that everyone knows," said Director Chris Simmons, a Sagamore Hills resident and a graduate of Nordonia High School. "We really try to rotate in a big family oriented show every couple years. We did ‘Cinderella’ in 2016 and now we are off to Oz! The show itself offers a lot of challenging roles for our students, and even gave us the opportunity to invite some younger actors from the elementary schools to participate in the show as Munchkins. It really checked off a lot of boxes in terms of what we wanted to present this year."
One of the challenges in putting together this production, Simmons said, is it is so well-known.
"They know the songs, the lines," Simmons said. "They have an expectation and we are working very hard to exceed that expectation. From a logistical standpoint, the costumes and the tech make this is the biggest show we have ever done. There are over 600 costume pieces and accessories in the show for our cast of 50 actors. It is a huge show, and Nordonia Drama is going all out."
Simmons said that the last time the high school staged "The Wizard of Oz" was in 2001, when he was a freshman there.
"it was my first musical ever," Simmons said. "It really changed my life in that it started me on the path of what has been nearly the last 20 years of my life. So bringing the show back to Nordonia, on the same stage where I was in it, really is a crazy full circle moment. Also, my cast. My cast is insane and they are working so hard on the show. I love going in every day to work with these talented young actors."
Simmons added this is his 19th musical he has been involved with in some capacity, and his sixth musical as director of the Drama Club.
Miah Montesano,17, a junior, who plays Aunt Em, said this is her third production at the high school.
"I enjoy the story telling and the ability to be a part of something that other’s enjoy," Montesano said. "Acting and singing have always been a big passion of mine and to share that passion with others is something I thoroughly enjoy."
Montesano said she was thinking of either pursuing a career in theater or genetic biology after graduation.
Nicky Dietzen is a veteran of the Nordonia High School stage, having been involved with every musical since her freshman year. She will play the Wicked Witch of the West.
"The voice is a constant struggle, but hardest of all was learning a witch cackle," Nicky said of the challenges playing the famous character. "I still have to make sure I breathe correctly before each one. Also the fire ball hand contraption was pretty daunting at first."
Nicky, who is an 18-year-old senior, said she loved "being able to bring an audience into a brand new world."
"To show people things they’ve never seen before and will never see in reality," Nicky said. "I think it’s one of my most exhilarating things to be in another world."
After graduation, Nicky said she plans to major in journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia.
"While I love acting, writing is definitely my greatest passion," Nicky said. "I will be sure to take on an acting or film minor though."
Alex Posar, another high school theater veteran with three other musicals under his belt, will play the Tinman.
"The costume for the Tinman has been an interesting thing to get used to," Alex said of the challenges with his role. Not only is it large and clunky, but it can become very hot during the dance numbers. And the makeup is not easy to change out of when we have to return to Kansas at the end of the show."
The 17-year-old senior, who said he plans to enlist in the National Guard when he graduates, said he felt being onstage "is a unique opportunity to bring joy to a lot of people."
"I think people need a way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and theater is just one way I can help people do that," Alex said.
Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 12 and 13, and at 3 p.m. April 14 in the Nordonia High School auditorium.
Reserved seating is $15 and general admission is $10.
For details, visit https://www.nordoniadrama.com online.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @AprilKHelms_RPC