The live orchestra, conducted by Patrick Day, conjured up properly ominous music to accompany a tornado’s harsh winds and rain as Kansas countryside dwellers held onto their hats. Caught in the “twister” were Dorothy and her dog Toto, who were whisked away to the fantasy land of Oz. At their arrival, Dorothy met the good witch Glinda and the brightly dressed Munchkins. By the end of the first act in the April 13 preview show of Roberta Jones Junior Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy was embarking on the yellow brick road to find a wizard who might help her return home. The musical is based on L. Frank Baum’s novel.
“This story is about people achieving their dreams, making deep friendships and appreciating their family and loved ones,” says Kevin Cornelius, recreation supervisor for the Santa Clara City Parks and Recreation Department.
Sophia McDaniel, 16, playing the sweet and loyal Dorothy, reflects on how she is similar to this character.
“I think a lot about where I want to go after high school; I want to explore and go to other places,” McDaniel says. “The fact that Dorothy thinks about other places beyond home is inspiring. It’s also inspiring that she wants to come back home at the end.”
Michael Kennedy, 15, shares about how he conveyed fear while playing the oversensitive Cowardly Lion.
“I was viewing all the things on stage, such as the big Oz head, as if I was seeing them in real life for the first time,” Kennedy says. “Sometimes I thought of something I have been scared of in real life, such as spiders, and I would bring that to my character.”
Annabel Gong, 17, playing the Scarecrow, offers an example where the Scarecrow, who is supposed to lack a brain, carried out a smart idea.
“When the Scarecrow and Dorothy are walking through the forest, Dorothy’s hungry and they see the apple trees,” Gong says. “The trees don’t want to give up their apples. So the Scarecrow decides to provoke the trees and get them to throw their apples at them so he and Dorothy could eat them.”
A stimulating special effect was the high wire flying that a handful of characters participated in. In several scenes, the Wicked Witch of the West cackled gleefully as she flew by on her broomstick.
“The wires clip onto our harnesses that we have underneath our costumes,” says Kelly Cella, 16, playing the Wicked Witch of the West. “We have a few people on flight crew that are specifically assigned to each actor and they help move us across the stage and up and down. It’s a great feeling to fly. Once I’m lifted up, I get my broomstick under my dress and between my knees and then I steer the broomstick.”
The Roberta Jones Junior Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz” is playing April 15-24. Visit www.rjjt.org for more information.