River Hill enlists munchkins for production of `The Wizard of Oz'


Howard Live


River Hill High School may need to widen the Yellow Brick Road when it presents The Wizard of Oz this week with a cast of more than 80 young actors.

Director Pam Land said her drama department is excited to reach out to the community by using 36 elementary and middle school pupils alongside 52 River Hill students.

The children will play munchkins who direct Kansas girl Dorothy to seek out the Wizard of Oz after a cyclone carries her, her house and her dog, Toto, to that magical land over the rainbow.

FOR THE RECORD - An incorrect time for tomorrow's matinee performance of The Wizard of Oz at River Hill High School was published in Wednesday's Howard edition. The matinee is at 2 p.m. The Sun regrets the error.

"We thought this was a great opportunity," Land said. "Many of [the actors] are kids who will ultimately come to River Hill."

Land said it was a challenge to bring the younger and older actors together in one cast.

"Each munchkin has a `munchkin mate' among the high school kids to help them through the rehearsals," Land said. "It is a great opportunity for the older kids to take this responsibility for the younger kids."

Land said she also learned some lessons from working with children from first through eighth grades.

"The attention span is different; their focus is different," she said. "You have to adjust your expectations."

She added, "It helped me appreciate the ability of the high school kids to really hang in there" during lengthy rehearsals.

Among the leads, Sarah Ezzat will play Dorothy, with understudy Michelle Shankar performing at the Saturday matinee. Andrew Boetcher will play the Cowardly Lion, Robbie Metzbower will play the Tin Woodsman, and Alex Fast will play the Scarecrow. Emily Woodhouse will play the Wicked Witch of the West.

In addition to a large cast, the show will feature some eye-catching special effects designed by members of the student crew with help from adult advisers.

The wicked witch and her monkey cronies will fly with the help of mechanical rigging. Snow and smoke are planned for dramatic effect. And the students are working with "green screen" video technology to make items appear to fly by in the cyclone.

The teenagers are as excited as the youngsters by the special effects, Land said. "They're beside themselves about the flying."

River Hill students will also play in the orchestra with several adult guest musicians. Land's cairn terrier Chloe will guest star as Toto.


Performances are 7:30 p.m.Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with matinees at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Advance tickets are $8 and are available from the school information center or members of the cast. Tickets purchased at the door will be $10. River Hill High School is at 12101 Route 108, Clarksville. 410-313- 7120.

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