The famed yellow-brick road leads to the Paris Center of Fine Arts next weekend for the Crestwood Junior High School production of “The Wizard of Oz.” Left to right, the tin man played by Chase Ogle, the scarecrow played by Katt Waltz and Dorothy played by Chloe Martin prepare to depart the cornfield for the perilous journey to the Emerald City. (Gary Henry/The Prairie Press)

Off to see the 'Wizard'

The annual Crestwood musical performances set at PCFA next weekend

A theater is a magical place that transports audiences in time and place.

That happens again Feb. 16 and Feb. 17 when Crestwood Junior High School students take family, friends and community members to the Enchanted Land of Oz, with a production of “The Wizard of Oz” at the Paris Center of Fine Arts. Performances are 7 p.m. each day with doors opening at 6 p.m. Tickets are sold at the door for $10 for each performance and seating is on a first come, first serve basis. There is no reserved seating or advanced tickets sales.

The directing team of Tanner Laughlin and Agnes Wright are joining forces for the fourth time to put on a Crestwood musical. This is the third time the Crestwood students have used the stage at the fine arts center.

Wright is directing and Laughlin is assisting with this production.

“There is a good balance of roles,” Wright said regarding the choice for “The Wizard of Oz.”

She explained the musical has about the same number of roles for boys and girls so casting is fairer than in a work where one gender may dominate.

Laughlin added another reason for selecting “The Wizard of Oz” is because the story is well-known and popular with families.

This Crestwood production uses all of the familiar songs from the 1939 movie, plus a couple of extra songs from a subsequent theatrical version. One of the extra songs is called “Jitterbug.”

Wright explained in addition to providing stage direction, she and Laughlin are also handling the choreography.

Over the four-year span the team had worked with the Crestwood students recruiting for the annual musical has become almost a non-issue.

“I think as the kids went back and told their classmates how much fun they had, that helped get others involved,” said Laughlin.

In many ways, this is almost a full-school production.

Laughlin credited Crestwood art teacher Mary Magee and her art students for helping paint a majority of the sets. Some sets were borrowed from an Indiana theater that recently performed “The Wizard of Oz.”

Chorus participation is an important tool for obtaining cast members.

“If you are in the chorus, you are going to be in the musical,” said Wright, adding participating in the musical is a requirement for the grade in chorus.

Students do not audition for specific roles.

“They audition in general and we cast them in the roles they fit the best,” said Wright.

The Prairie Press

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