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CCHS drama brings ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to the stage March 7-8

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By Kristin Beck

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Carroll County High School next weekend for the high school drama club performance of “The Wizard of Oz.”

There will be three performances: 7 p.m. on Friday, March 7 and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 8, all in the high school cafeteria. Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for adults.

Director Jennifer Beach said there are two versions of “The Wizard of Oz”: the movie version and the stage version. She chose to perform the movie version because that is the one the students and the audience are the most familiar with.

“When I mentioned it to them, every single one was excited to do a production they were familiar with,” she said.

“It’s a classic,” senior Dominic Hunt said. She said it has been a thrill hearing, not just family, but friends tell her they are excited about seeing her perform as “Glenda the Good Witch of the North” in the play.

“I think it was about time we did a classic,” senior Michael Hedges said. “Everyone knows the story, even though there have been spin-offs. When people hear ‘Wizard of Oz,’ they think Dorothy. I think we will pull it all together, and it will be a pretty good production.”

Kiana Benhoff will play the lead role as Dorothy in the production. This will bring her acting career full-circle, as she played the title role of Cinderella in eighth-grade at CCMS. 

“It’s stressful, definitely, but rewarding,” she said. “You kind of wait your whole high school career to play this part.”

Benhoff also performed at CCHS in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “Camelot,” and “Les Misérables.” The most challenging thing for her has been learning the entire script because Dorothy is on stage almost the entire play, she said. “Once you get into the character, it’s a really fun character to play.”

Hunt said playing Glenda has made her feel peppier than she ever has in her life, and she has felt a lot of joy from playing the role. “She is very inspiring,” she said.

Hunt also performed in “Cinderella” as an eighth-grader, as well as “Beowulf,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” But this is the most lines she has ever had. Another challenge has been the singing because Glenda has a very high-pitched voice, which Hunt said she does not.

Hedges takes the stage as the Tin Man.

“He’s not really the comedian in the play. He has some funny lines, but he is the heart-warmer throughout the play,” he said.

Hedges’ acting credits include “Grease” as a seventh-grader and “The Real Edgar Allan Poe: A Night of Terror,” “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “Camelot” and “Les Misérables” at CCHS. He also provided the sound effects for “A Christmas Carol.”

This production will not only feature the high school students, but students from across the district. Carroll County Middle School will take the stage as Osians and other more mature roles, while Cartmell Elementary and Kathryn Winn Primary students will play Munchkins, Apple Trees and Flying Monkeys.

Beach said she went to each school asking for students to try out, and the schools distributed the information through notes sent home and the parent email lists. It was very well received, she said.

The high school productions have featured younger students in the past, but not as many as this year, Beach said. She said she organized practice schedules so that the Munchkin scene was held separately and did not impact the high school students as much. Beach said the young students have done a good job of being there and learning their parts. She said she has been “pleasantly pleased with how smoothly it has gone.”

Hunt and Benhoff said they have enjoyed working with the young actors and actresses. Hunt, who helps teach fourth- and fifth-grade art, said students have come up and talked to her about the play during class. Benhoff said parents of the children have come through her line at Wal-Mart and called her Dorothy.

Hedges said the younger students have been really good at listening and knowing when it is their turn to sing and to dance.

“The Wizard of Oz” would not be complete without a Toto, and CCHS’s version will have one of those as well. Maddi Rogers, who is also acting in the play, offered her Yorkie terrier named Buster to take on the role, Beach said.

Like just about everything else this winter, snow and ice have affected the play, most notably, the performance was pushed back two weeks because of lost rehearsal time.

“(The weather) has not helped at all,” Beach said.

When they were able to practice, sometimes they would miss a day right after, causing them to lose momentum and made it feel like they were starting all over again. “It’s probably been the biggest hurdle we have had to cross this year,” she said.

Hedges said the biggest challenge for him has been juggling time between classes, play rehearsals and Louisville dance classes. He studies ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary and tumbling with the Louisville Dance Alliance.

Beach enlisted the help of Cindy Hedges to teach the choreography. Because the production has so many different sets, Beach asked Jill Mahoney to create a Power Point presentation that will be projected onto a screen in the background. Beach said this is something new and she is excited to have it. Numerous parents also volunteered their time to help with props and costumes, she said.

Beach said this is a great play for families. If you want to make sure you get a good seat, come to the matinee Saturday afternoon, she said.

Hunt said she has been impressed with how well all of the characters have connected together. “Everyone has been working really hard.”

“The characters are cast very well,” Benhoff said. “It’s going to be fun to watch. It’s family-friendly, and the music is good.”


High school cast of "The Wizard of Oz"

 

Kiana Benhoff, Dorothy 

Kathryn Gillespie, Wicked Witch of the West

Michael Hedges, Tin Man

Joshua Beach, Scarecrow

Logan Underwood, Cowardly Lion

Jackie Stout, Aunt Em

Alex Jeffrey, Uncle Henry

Jordan Becraft, Miss Gulch

Dominque Hunt, Glenda, the Good Witch of the North

Matthew Beach, The Wizard

Mallory Perry, Sebastian Glacken, Abby Brock and Hannah Robbins, Chorus