Off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz

What a bunch of little munchkins: Clayton Johnston

What a bunch of little munchkins: Clayton Johnston

By Charles Tweed

“Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh, my!”

The Ponoka Composite High School is preparing for all sorts of wild animals when they present Oz, March 11-12 and 18-19.

The show will feature two casts; Kelsey Johnson will play Dorothy in the ruby cast performance on March 11 evening, March 12 matinee and March 19 evening.

“We prepare for months, we have rehearsals every day and we get really busy during show times. We spend a lot of time at the church but it’s fun and we ask to stay late,” said Johnson.

Being part of the ruby cast also means Johnson will be a part of the first performance for the public, something she’s both excited and nervous about.

“You always get a little nervous beforehand. You rehearse for so long and there’s no one in the audience and all of a sudden you’re on stage and there’s lights and people and it’s like whew, but that’s why you love it, once you get past the initial nervousness you start to love the butterflies,” she said.

With the Wizard of Oz being such a classic, director Airyn Street had some challenges adapting it from the book to the stage.

“I’ve adapted it from the book but we’ve thrown in our own flavor and there’s a few surprises — I didn’t want to change too much because I love the Wizard of Oz. It was the first show I did at Ponoka Composite (High School), 10 years ago — there’s certain things I wouldn’t change but some things we changed, like having a female lion,” said Street.

She’s also hoping that some of the original cast from 10 years ago come to see the show. The show should jog some old memories and give the former cast an opportunity to relive their own performances.

Street says she’s seen amazing progress in the cast already and was quick to credit the cast’s work ethic and the Klaglahachie Fine Arts Society, a local community theatre group that gives aspiring actors another avenue.

“It’s amazing to see it all come together. They do so much work on their own and I love to see it come alive on the stage — there have been months of jitters and it’s exciting. It’s chaos trying to get it all together but it’s exciting,” said Street.

Another classic is the show’s sound.

“It’s always been a role that I’ve really wanted and Somewhere Over the Rainbow is an awesome song. I was really excited when I heard we were doing it and it is such an iconic song,” said Johnson.

The Wizard of Oz starts March 11 and tickets can be purchased in advance by phoning 403-783-4411.