Let's go off to see the Wizard at Minot High School's Magic City campus beginning tonight at 7:30 p.m. "There are several versions of 'The Wizard of Oz' for the stage," said director Alphonse Koenigsman.
"This is the one taken from the movie. It's a musical with all the standard songs everybody knows." It also includes a jitterbug number not in the movie, "Because Paula (Simonson) really wanted to do it," said Koenigsman.
She's been the choreographer for many years for the high school performances, and teams with Lindsay Kerzmann as music director.
"There are probably close to 40 in the cast, counting the little kids," he said. "It's an experienced cast, though. That's one of the reasons I chose to do this play again. Maren Livingston, who plays Dorothy, has a fantastic voice. I think she was with the Western Plains Children's Choirs, and I know she's done other shows in town. Rachel Olson is another one with an incredibly strong voice. She plays Glinda, and also has a lot of stage experience."
Dorothy's companions were also singled out for their vocal abilities, with Shelby Cross as the Scarecrow, who also has some dance experience, Spencer Haderlie as the Tin Man and Morgan Martell as the Cowardly Lion. ("He's not only the king of the forest," said Koenigsman, "he's homecoming king, too.")
As in the movie, Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch are portrayed by the same actress, a newcomer to Minot, Mickaela Ernest-Klapak.
"She'll put in a strong performance, with lots of stage presence," said Koenigsman. "You should see it when she melts!"
The set not only provides for this trick, it's got six 3-sided set pieces, with four of those on wagons so they can be moved to create 15 different sets from Kansas to Munchkin land to the Emerald City and Witch's home.
The complex wardrobe scheme is being handled by veteran stage seamstress Jacque Younger. Koenigsman pointed out that the school still had a few pieces left over from their production of a dozen years ago.
"It's a very complex show, very elaborate," he said. "Amanda Crawford, the art teacher, has been instrumental in helping with painting, getting her classes involved. You know, that tornado is a big thing."
He has nothing but praise for the students, including the middle school children who play the flying monkeys, Munchkins, poppies and snowflakes, with help from high school Munchkin wranglers like the mayor Erin Bliss, coroner Krista Sipin, barrister Rachel Petersen and teacher Annika Kraft.
"Everyone gets a lot of stage time," he said. That includes other principal singers Linnea Maxfield as Auntie Em, Stefan Wolf as Uncle Henry, Katie Abrahamson as Zeke, Chris Larson as Hickory and Zack Burkhart as Hunk. Playing the title character is Chris Hoffer, who doubles as Professor Marvel, just as in the movie. "They are all really committed to the show; they have a real sense of ownership," Koenigsman said proudly.
The school has added an extra matinee performance, making the run tonightz through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for students 18 and under.