It's that timeless tale of a lovely young lady for whom inclement weather and fate have her crossing paths with a scarecrow, a lion, a tin man and of course a wicked witch.
By cleverly "localizing" Frank Baum's classic "The Wizard of Oz," however, Canfield Village Middle School drama teacher Kandace Cleland brings together a cast of approximately 50 whose adventures find them ambling about the merry old land of Canfield.
Family, friends, and community are welcome to join in the fun as CVMS will present Cleland's original musical, "OZ: I have a feeling we're not in Canfield anymore!" The production will be held at 7 p.m. May 3, 4, and 5 in the Canfield High School auditorium.
Photo by Kathleen Palumbo, Town Crier correspondent
Not yet in costume, but certainly ready in character and mind are several members of the cast and crew of CVMS upcoming production, “OZ: I don’t think we’re in Canfield Anymore.” Pictured are: Andrew Letscher, who will play the Lion; Megan Gokala, a Munchkin and wink; Stephanie Franco, a wink; Olivia Slater, a flower and a wink; Riley Chiu, on the crew; and Maddy Urig, who plays the Scarecrow.
Sharing that she chose the "Wizard of Oz" because it had so many different characters, "I had a nice group of kids and I wanted everyone to have a part," said Cleland. Adding that the expense of acquiring rights wasn't feasible, Cleland added, "I've done playwriting before and thought wouldn't it be fun to have it more local."
Regarding her decision to bring Canfield and Oz together, "With the depressed economy, I wanted something that we could feel good about," said Cleland, who added that in the classroom, she often addresses pertinent issues such as bullying, etc. through drama, and thought the play would offer a vehicle to address tolerance and courage.
"Despite advanced warnings from the Weather Channel, Dot and Toto, portrayed by Rosie Bresson and Karina Conner, go on a whirlwind adventure to the land of OZ," said Cleland, explaining that along the way, they meet friends the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion, played by Maddy Urig, Justin Jickess, and Andrew Almira respectively, and Belinda the Good Witch, played by Emma Hartshorn.
In addition to the lead characters, which also include the Wicked Witch of the West, portrayed by Annie Vallas, her sister in the East, played by Olivia Ricciutti, and of course Lake Bennett as the Wizard, Cleland said there will be an amazing array of characters from Munchkins, Crows, Gardenias, Winks, and Evil Monkeys. All of them share Cleland's self-proclaimed affinity for the Motown sound and present a familiar school environment many will recognize.
Tickets will be available at the door each evening of the show; cost of seats on Thursday will be $5, and Friday and Saturday's tickets will be $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.
According to Cleland, who can be reached for additional information at KCleland@canfieldschools.net, the play will include video production, guaranteeing a great view for all in attendance.
Having created a friendly neighborhood "Oz," "It's like Canfield there's no place like home," said Cleland.