Kentwood puts new spin on time-honored Wizard of Oz: See the slide show, too!
By LAURA PIERCE
Kent Reporter Contributor
May 14, 2010 · Updated 11:20 AM
It's got a witch, a scarecrow, a lion and a tin man.
And then there's Dorothy, and her little dog, too.
But don't get too comfortable with this story - Kentwood's production of "Oz" has some one-of-a-kind twists you won't see anywhere else.
"It's an interesting story of revenge," said KW drama teacher Rebecca Lloyd, director of the play.
"I based it on a tale of revenge and added some fun little twists of my own in," she said, noting her interest in the venerable story became piqued after the book "Wicked" came out, explaining how misunderstood the Witch of the West really was.
Lloyd reverberates some of that sensibility. For instance, wouldn't you be upset if a flying house flattened a member of your family?
"Dorothy's house landed on the witch's sister," Lloyd quipped. "The witch has a reason to be angry."
Lloyd also has filled in a bit as to why Dorothy has such a cranky neighbor in Myra Gulch, the wellspring of the witch.
"The back story is that Myra Gulch had a thing for (Uncle) Henry, but he chose Auntie Em over her, and she never forgave him," Lloyd said. "I like for my kids to have motivation, so we went through it to make it more interesting for them, and for the audience to see."
It's also a fresh break for the audience to see the new Elmira Gulch - she rides a motor scooter instead of a wobbly bike, and she's actually pretty good-looking, even if she is the color of spinach.
"She's green, but she looks good in it," Lloyd said.
There's another twist Lloyd isn't talking about - the ending. She'll only say it was the ending she thought had happened, when she used to watch the movie as a youngster every Thanksgiving.
"It's how I remembered it as a baby," Lloyd said. "So I did my own version and I made it that way."
Still, Kentwood wouldn't be having "Oz" in its production lineup if Lloyd didn't think a group of her students were naturals for it.
"You pick shows for your talent," she said. "I was like, 'this is the perfect show for us to do.'"
Leading the cast will be the main characters of Oz: Dorothy (Brooke Bower), the Scarecrow (Saxton Walker), the Cowardly Lion (Nick Davies), the Tin Man (Jared Rein) and the Wicked Witch of the West (Megan Ingalls.)
They are leading a cast of roughly 40 high schoolers, in addition to another 40 Munchkins, made up of elementary and middle schoolers.
"It's great - I love these kids," Lloyd said of the younger kids.
Then there is a small army of behind-the-scenes set designers, as well as an orchestra, for a grand total of approximately 110 student participants.
And there is a little dog, too: Lloyd's Bichon-Frise-Pomeranian mix, who has the right size and the smarts to play Dorothy's dog, Toto.
The production called for a total of 153 costumes that had to be created, in addition to rented costumes for the Tin man, Scarecrow and Flying Monkey.
The production has been a major labor of love for the Kentwood Players. Rehearsals have been going on since February. Lloyd said rehearsals were every day after school, and then Saturdays. As they moved closer to crunch time, the Monday-Friday rehearsals would last until nearly 9:45 p.m., to be followed by Saturday practices that could run to 8 p.m.
The play opened May 5 in fine form, and Lloyd said it nearly sold out last Saturday. She's expecting to see that happen this weekend, when the production makes its final May 12-15 run at the Kentwood Performing Arts Center.
"We've been doing really well," said Lloyd, who has been a fixture in the Kentwood Drama Department for nearly 13 years. She also teaches a theater-tech class as a vocational program, as well as art classes at KW.
A number of Kentwood Players have gone on to post-high-school careers in drama, music and theater tech, and these often come back to help Lloyd with her KW productions.
All the money KW makes from the show will go toward paying the cost of producing it, and any funds left over then go back into into the ASB-Drama Department budget.
If you go
WHAT: Kentwood Players' "Wizard of Oz"
WHEN: Remaining performances through May 15
WHERE: Kentwood Performing Arts Center - 25800 164th Ave. S.E., Covington
TIME 7 p.m. each night.
TICKETS: $8; go to www.brownpapertickets.com or call 253-373-7685..Contact Kent Reporter Contributor Laura Pierce at email@example.com or 253-872-6600 ext. 5050.