By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

In preparing for Wizard of Oz, McNary drama director Tom Cavanaugh told his students not to re-watch the classic film and make the iconic characters their own.

That’s been harder for some than others.

“I watched it (the movie) as a kid and I would always hide behind the couch when the witch came out and now I’m playing it (Wicked Witch of the West),” McNary senior Camryn Ronnow said.

But Ronnow has enjoyed the challenge.

“I wanted to play the Witch because it’s a really iconic role and I just really wanted to see if I could do it,” Ronnow said. “It’s a challenge and in my acting experience, most of the roles that I have played have been sort of similar to who I am. I wanted to be the Wicked Witch really bad because it’s just so opposite and fun. I’ve just been mixing together the Joker and the kind of insane crazy mean stuff and then just doing what comes naturally to me. It’s just all kind of mixed together to be this character.”

Playing Glinda, the good witch, has been easier for McNary senior Sydnie Gould.

“It’s so much fun,” Gould said. “I love it. I get to be pink. I keep calling myself a puff pastry. That’s basically what Glinda is. I love playing her. She’s just really happy and fun and gets to clap along with the munchkins.”

Gould, Ronnow and the rest of the McNary drama department debuted Wizard of Oz on Thursday, Nov. 9 in the Ken Collins Theater. The musical runs Friday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 11 at 2 and 7 p.m. as well as Nov. 16-17 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 18 at 2 and 7 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and available online at mcnary-theatre.ticketleap.com/wizard-of-oz.

Over the Rainbow Tea Parties will also take place at noon before the matinees, and include treats, face painting, photo opportunities with the characters and admission to the show for $12.

Grace Condello, who was in the ensemble in Beauty and the Beast and The Addams Family, is playing her first lead as Dorothy.

“I’ve never had this experience before and being Dorothy of all leads is kind of crazy because she’s in the entire show but it’s been so much fun,” Condello said. “It’s kind of a dream come true for me. Dorothy is just a dream role for every alto. It’s just been an incredible experience.”

Condello did already have a relationship with Over the Rainbow.

“It was my first solo I ever did so it was really special to me,” Condello said. “It’s such a great song, it’s a classic and I love singing it.”

Condello is putting a different take on Dorothy.

“I’m trying to play Dorothy as less of a whiney teenage girl, which she can definitely be played as,” Condello said. “I’ve kind of taken my inspiration from Rapunzel in Tangled. She goes out of the tower for the first time and she has no idea what’s happening and she’s taking it all in and her energy and enthusiasm in that, I’m trying to draw from her. Instead of being whiney, being more feisty and trying to figure things out more for myself.”

Condello’s favorite dance number comes from a song that’s not even in the movie—The Jitterbug.

“It’s exhausting but it’s totally worth it,” she said. “When we fall on the ground, we really are falling on the ground in exhaustion because it just takes it out of you. But it’s super fun.”

McNary choir director Joshua Rist’s dog, Johann Sebastian Bach, is playing Toto.

“He is such a good dog,” Condello said. “It’s unreal.”

McNary seniors Matthew Albright, Steven Cummings and Brian Gragg are playing the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion.

“That’s my mom’s favorite movie so I’ve been watching it since I was little,” Cummings said of the Wizard of Oz. “I decided I didn’t want to re-watch the movie because scarecrow is one of my favorite characters and I knew if I watched it I’d pretend to be Ray Bolger the whole time.”

Jacob Fritts (Wizard of Oz), Kennadi Thomas (Emerald Guard), Madelyn Hurst (Aunt Em) and Ricky Galvan (Uncle Henry) make up the rest of the cast, which also includes an ensemble and 18 munchkins made up of Whiteaker and City Dance Theatre students.