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Canajoharie, NY ,

Joshua Thomas
The full, 41-member cast and crew of "The Wizard of Oz", which will be performed three times from March 28-30.


Fort Plain-Canajoharie Drama Club to present "The Wizard of Oz" March 28-30

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - Updated: 9:44 AM


C-S-E Editor

CANAJOHARIE -- From March 28-30, at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, the Fort Plain-Canajoharie Drama Club will present the timeless, musical classic "The Wizard of Oz" at the Canajoharie High School's Arkell Performing Arts Center. The show will be presented in two acts with an intermission, where refreshments will be served.

Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, and children under 10 enter for free.

The young, 41-member cast and crew has been practicing for three nights a week since December auditions, and there's no doubt that the cast -- filled with both seasoned performers and newcomers -- aims to impress, presenting a version no less magical, moving and classic than the one audiences have come to know and love.

Director Will Ryan said that from the very beginning, this production was different than others he's worked on. Prior to the audition process, he and Assistant Director Lauri Broady had ideas of who'd be perfect for certain roles, though numerous cast members ended up in unexpected roles based on the strength of their audition performances.

"The kids surprised us," Ryan commented, noting that this cast is much younger, on average, than ones he's directed before. There are only five senior students involved with this play, including two on the stage crew. A young cast, he said, is a good thing to have, as getting the kids started young means that talent and ability builds with each production.

Ryan admitted that the most daunting part of taking on such a well-known, beloved piece of history is "pulling it off right and doing justice to what made it a classic." The hardest part of the process, he said, was finding a version that was true to the story he grew up with. Even this version, explained Ryan, which is very close to the classic film, had some surprising additions and subtractions. One main subtraction is Dorothy's dog, Toto, who doesn't exist in this version. An example of an interesting addition is a complex, choreographed musical scene where Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow are besieged by Jitterbugs. The Jitterbugs cause them to endlessly dance, and before their strength is depleted, Dorothy must call upon Glenda, the Good Witch to save the day with magic.

The choreography in that scene, Ryan explained, was one of the hardest parts to perfect. He said of the cast, "they've all worked hard to pull off that dance."

This production, aside from featuring professional sets alongside ones constructed by Mike Broady and the kids, also has an expanded band, which features a string section. "It's a wonderful bonus this year," said Ryan, explaining that musical directors Norma Bowley and Julieanne Sincavage involved CHS Band Director Tim Field and CHS Music Teacher Leo Milman, who provided some of their students to perform in the show. Milman also plays in the orchestra. The strings give the production a sweeping and enveloping, timeless quality.

"It has been a wonderful experience," Ryan said of directing "The Wizard of Oz", noting that he hopes people "will come out and enjoy a night at the theater with a show that is true to the story of "The Wizard of Oz". If you grew up knowing "The Wizard of Oz", as I have … we hope you won't be disappointed."

The most rewarding part of the entire, exhaustive, exhilerating process of bringing "The Wizard of Oz" to life, he said, will be "watching everyone's hard work come to life on stage," before a live audience. Ryan said it's thrilling "listening to everybody, strangers and family, tell the kids what a great job they did."

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