'Wizard of Oz' will feature floating characters

Williamsport High theater production upgrades gamut of special effects

Williamsport High theater production upgrades gamut of special effects

April 10, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

WILLIAMSPORT - Tornadoes, witches and monkeys are returning to Williamsport the next two weekends, but this time they all will be "flying."

Williamsport High School's theater department is presenting "The Wizard of Oz" for the fifth time under the direction of Ruth Ridenour. Previous performances of the musical were in 1978, 1992, 1995 and 2000.

While the theater department has had flying effects for "Peter Pan" in 2002 and for "Beauty and the Beast" in 2006, this is the first time a flying rig with cables and pulleys will be employed for "Wizard of Oz," Ridenour said.

"The effects are just much more complicated and visually stunning," Ridenour said.

Whereas characters flew in "Peter Pan" and "Beauty and the Beast," in "Wizard of Oz," characters will be suspended in objects approximately 18 feet above the stage. This includes the good witch Glinda floating into Munchkinland in a "bubble" and the Wizard flying in a hot-air balloon basket, Ridenour said.


"I'm just the kind of person that feels if you're going to do a show, I don't care if it's high school or whatever, you want to do it so everybody gets the feeling that they're seeing a Broadway (style) show," Ridenour said.

Foy Inventerprises, based in Las Vegas, provided the cable and pulley rigging system. Peter Foy provided the rigging to make Mary Martin fly in "Peter Pan" on Broadway in 1954.

The cable system cost Williamsport High School more than $4,000, Ridenour said. She hopes ticket sales will pay for it. If not, the difference will be paid with donations, revenue from program ads and the theater department's surplus from last year.

Williamsport students make up most of the production crew and the entire cast of approximately 45, which includes members of the school's show choir, the SophistiCats. A Foy Inventerprises official trained Ridenour and the students how to use the rigging for the choreography.

Williamsport's version of "The Wizard of Oz" was developed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The adaptation was based not on the original 1900 book by Frank Baum but on the screenplay for the 1939 movie starring Judy Garland, Ridenour said. The script is almost word-for-word the same as the movie, Ridenour said, and includes a jitterbug scene set in the haunted forest that was deleted from the movie.

Ridenour says the story is timeless, and the school's production usually draws a good crowd.

"I just think it's the lovable characters," Ridenour said, "(and) the feel-good story about the fact that you think you want to be somewhere else and you're not satisfied with your life, and then you realize how good you have it."

If you go ...

WHAT: "Wizard of Oz," a Williamsport High School production

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Fridays, April 11 and 18; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, April 12 and 19; and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, April 13 and 20

WHERE: Williamsport High School auditorium, 5 S. Clifton Drive, Williamsport

COST: $10, adults; $9, ages 17 and younger, and 60 and older

MORE: For reservations and information, call the box office at 301-766-8433. Reservations are recommended.

"Wizard of Oz" cast

Dorothy Gale (Cast 1): Marquis Clever

Dorothy Gale (Cast 2): Shannon Draper

Aunt Em/Glinda the Good Witch of the North (Cast 1): Kari Smith

Aunt Em/Glinda the Good Witch of the North (Cast 2): Kelsi Phillips

Uncle Henry Gale/Crow/Polisher/Winkie General: Ben Baker

Hunk/Scarecrow: Zachery Burger

Hickory/Tin Woodman: Edward Schubel

Zeke/Cowardly Lion: Brett Rowland

Miss Gultch/Wicked Witch: Julie Cook

Professor Marvel/Emerald City Guard/The Wizard of Oz: Dann Hayes

Toto in Oz: Leah Harrell

Mayor of Munchkinland/Winkie/Oz Polisher: Travis Ware

Coroner of Munchkinland/Winkie/Oz Polisher: Gary Eichelberger

Barrister of Munchkinland/Winkie/Crow/Ozian: Austin Britner

Tree/Munchkin and Ozian Ensemble: Carlee Myers

Tree/Jitterbug/Munchkin School Teacher/Oz Beautician/Jitterbug: Leslie Forcino and Rachel VanMetre

Munchkin Lullaby League/Jitterbug/Munchkin and Ozian Ensemble: Mary Mulligan and Merrick Jensen

Munchkin Lollipop Guild/Winkies/Ozian Ensemble: Lawrence Shaw and Nick Vindivich

Munchkin Lollipop Guild/Crow/Winkies/Ozian Ensemble: Tylor Githens

Nikko (Commander of the flying monkeys)/Munchkin and Ozian Ensemble: Emily Tritsch

Flying Monkey No. 2/Munchkin and Ozian Ensemble: Sara Williams

The Jitterbug (Dance Solo)/Munchkin and Ozian Ensemble: Catherine Marx

Oz Manicurist/Munchkin and Ozian Ensemble: Nicole Mangold

Miss Gultch Fly Double/Oz Beautician/Munchkin and Ozian Ensemble: Kalyn Berry

Oz Beautician/Jitterbug/Munchkin and Ozian Ensemble: Nikki Allison

Jitterbug/Munchkin and Ozian Ensemble: Zoie Dobrzanski

Winkie/Munchkin and Ozian Ensemble: Melanie Shank and Allison Ruth

Male Ensemble (Munchkins/Ozians/Winkies): Darian Waple and Will Boyer

Female/Munchkin and Ozian Ensemble/Poppies/monkeys): Sarah Tate, Racheal Hall, Kaylyn Smith, Ayelora Clopper, Alicia Martinez and Vicki Johnson

Toto in Kansas: Schotzie

Dog in Oz: Dante

"Wizard of Oz" crew

Director and Set Design: Ruth Ridenour

Scenic Painting: Doris Hoopengardner

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