“Somewhere over the rainbow” echoed through the witch’s castle as Dorothy, played by Kennie Gable, cried as she sang and wished she could go home.
Dorothy sat on the steps inside the wicked witch’s castle watching the sand run out in the hour glass when she heard a familiar voice. Her friends Scarecrow, played by Hunter Walker, Tin Man, played by Wyatt Soule, and Lion, played by Matt Janecek had come to rescue her.
“Oh, hurry. Please hurry. The hourglass is almost empty,” Gable cried out.
Tin Man broke down the door and the three ran in to find Dorothy. Just as they prepared to escape, the Wicked Witch of the West, played by Elli Winkler caught them. As she circled the group with her broom extended, she selected Scarecrow as her first victim to be burned. Horrified at the thought of losing her friend, Dorothy rushes over to stop the witch by throwing water on her.
Winkler let out a shriek as she began to melt into the floor.
As the actors work through their scene transitions and lines, they are watching the movie for inspiration.
With opening night quickly approaching, the students are hopeful the audience experiences something they can remember as the high school brings to life the movie.
“There’s a lot of specific characters you have to pull off,” Gable said.
Aside from personifying iconic characters, Andy Stobel and Shelly Muggli are working with the students to pull off the special effects present in the movie.
“The hardest part will probably be getting all the effects to work just right,” Winkler said.
During rehearsal on Feb. 25, Stobel worked with the actors to block their scenes, which has made the story begin to take shape.
“It’s become very real that this is happening,” Gable said.
Throughout the rehearsal process, the actors are working on how they portray their characters.
Hunter, who plays Scarecrow, said a challenge for him is acting clumsy.
“I have to fall down all the time,” he said. “It hurts.”
Matt Janecek, who plays Lion, is working to personify the movie character’s personality.
“It’s important to be the character people are expecting,” Janecek said. “I’ve been watching the scenes and watching speech patterns and stuff like that.”
Wyatt Soule, who plays Tin Man, has to develop two distinct personalities from a rigid robot to someone full of life.
“Well, I go from being a cold, rigid robot to bursting out in tears in other scenes,” he said.
Winkler is also studying the film to master her Wicked Witch of the West voice.
“The hardest part is the witch’s voice,” she said.
While the lead actors have shared a stage together before, Gable and Soule grew up acting as siblings in the Gering High School production of Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang and will return as two main characters in this year’s production.
“I think it’s exciting,” Gable said. “I don’t think I ever thought I’d do another show with Wyatt to the capacity of Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang. We were so little and yet we did such a big role. Now, having to do another big role together is fun and exciting.”
Soule added, “It’s still just as scary as it was back then.”
The Gering High School theater department will present the spring musical production of The Wizard of Oz April 16-18 in the new auditorium.
“I hope they go out happier than when they came in,” Soule said.
Tickets sales begin March 15 and can be purchased on the Gering High School website.
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