They’re not in Kansas — or a virtual world — anymore.
After performing a pair of plays online earlier this school year, Blaine High School theater students return to the stage this weekend with their spring musical “The Wizard of Oz” April 30-May 2.
“‘The Wizard of Oz’ is a classic, highly recognizable and entertaining piece,” Blaine High School Theater Director Andrew Rakerd said. “Everyone can find something to love about it. Plus, there are a lot of magical moments and characters that offer fun challenges for actors and technicians alike.”
“I love seeing the actors develop with all of these odd, unique characters,” stage manager Amy Nguyen said. “They do an amazing job and it’s very enjoyable to watch. Plus, the creative innovations that have been made also have been fun!”
“I’m most excited for people to see how committed this cast and crew is,” said Brie Peterman, who plays The Scarecrow. “Even with all of the challenges COVID has brought us, we’ve all still poured our hearts and souls into this production, and I think it really shows. From the sets to the acting to the music and more, all of the students did such a great job bringing the magic of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to life, and I can’t wait for the audience’s reaction!”
It’s a classic tale, familiar to just about all. And it’s a musical that Blaine theater has been waiting a long time to put on.
When her farmhouse in Kansas is struck by a twister, Dorothy Gale finds herself transported to the magical land of Oz. Joined by The Scarecrow, The Tinman and The Cowardly Lion, Dorothy sets out on a journey to ask the Wonderful Wizard of Oz for help getting home. Unfortunately, the Wicked Witch of the West plans to thwart her plans. Follow Dorothy on her magical, musical journey down the yellow brick road in the land of Oz!
“I am most excited for the audience to see our show finally come together,” said Lydia Tomandl, who plays Dorothy. “The costumes, lights, props and songs are all a part of making the show the best it can be, and seeing everything be transformed on stage will be amazing. I think everyone in the show is also looking forward to this and finally getting to perform on an actual stage after not being able to for so long. This is one of my favorite shows I have ever done, and I hope the audience has as much fun watching it as we do performing it.”
COVID-19 protocols are still in place, nothing new for cast and crew, yet navigating them remains a big challenge. Masks and extra precautions make for challenging preparation, with the cast occasionally having to rehearse without various members available.
“Like anything else nowadays, COVID has put a huge boulder for us,” Nguyen said. “It gets a little stressful when we lose actors during rehearsal to quarantine and not knowing what may happen after that, but in the end we get through it all together.”
“Something challenging with this show specifically has been COVID and working around the craziness of our world right now,” Tomandl said. “There were times during rehearsal that cast members had to stay home, and we projected a Zoom call during our rehearsals so everyone could still practice their lines and songs. The rehearsal process has changed so many times during the last couple of months, but it ended up working great.”
“The most challenging aspect of the show for me is definitely the barriers that COVID has provided for us,” Peterman said. “It can be difficult to wear masks — especially while singing and dancing — and follow all COVID protocol at times, but we all know how important it is and we prioritize our safety.”
The show also marks a small bit of closure from a year ago, when Blaine theater was scheduled to perform “Wizard of Oz” for its spring musical.
“We had to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was devastating for all of the students last year,” Rakerd said. “I still feel for the class of 2020, who missed out on the final show of their senior year. However, many of the students who were in the cast last year are returning for this year’s production. This offers us a chance to finally get a sense of closure on a production that’s been over a year in the making.”
Students have worked hard to make things work within the given circumstances throughout the past year. But nothing compares to being back together on stage.
“It’s been over a year since we’ve been able to take the stage, and the students are ecstatic about being back,” Rakerd said. “Theater is fundamentally a collaborative art form, and being in the space to work together on a show is something we all desperately crave. The students have really been working hard together, and it’s so energizing seeing them laugh and create art together. It’s given me hope that we are moving toward a post-pandemic world.”
“The most fun part about ‘Wizard of Oz’ for me is getting to be back in the theater and perform with friends again,” Peterman said. “Especially with such a fun show, rehearsals are always the highlight of my day. It’s nice to see how everyone has grown over the last year, and to finally get to share the theater with one another again.”
Now, at long last, students get to reveal the musical they’ve been waiting over a year to put on.
“The most fun part of the show is definitely getting to see everyone in their costumes during the last couple weeks of rehearsal,” Tomandl said. “The show gets so much more exciting when we’re all dressed up with costumes and face paint and we get to see the show finally start to come together.”
“I’m excited for people to see the techies in action again,” Nguyen said. “In our previous shows this year there wasn’t a lot of opportunities for techies to show what they really have, so I’m super excited for people to see the amazing works of the techies!”
Masks will remain on, and the theater won’t be full. Still, a limited live audience will be on hand to take in the show, with others able to see a streaming online.
“Although Blaine High School mostly has students back in person at this point, we are not totally free of this pandemic just yet,” Rakerd said. “Students still need to be masked at all times, including during performances. We are allowed to have a small live audience, but only a maximum of two guests for each student. We’re drifting back toward things being normal, but we’re not quite there yet. Still, it’s a privilege to be able to offer students a live performance opportunity again after last year’s disappointment. We couldn’t be more excited to open this weekend!”
The show will be livestreamed April 30 at 7 p.m., May 1 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and May 2 at 2 p.m. Audiences can purchase a stream pass at bhstheatre.booktix.com to view the performance online.
Content is suitable for all ages.