These two Dorothy look-a-likes came complete with the braids, red shoes and baskets to the Allen East performance of "The Wizard of Oz, A Musical." On the left is Riley Irwin, the daughter of Nate and Heidi Irwin, and at right is Ava Lackey, daughter of Joe and Kelley Lackey.
Just when you least expect it…You are in Kansas…No make that The Emerald City! From the peaceful farm in Kansas to the poppy fields in Oz, the Allen East auditeria was the setting for many places this past weekend. "Lions and tigers and bears…OH MY!" Yes the yellow brick road led us all into the Land of Oz.
Under the direction of Mrs. Terri Spencer, the students of MustangLand stepped into MuchkinLand as they presented "The Wizard of Oz, A Musical." Spencer's trademark quote of "AE…Where Magic Happens" proved to be true as the stage lit up and the characters came to life in such a way that you had to remind yourself that this was a high school musical and not a big-city performance on Broadway.
Leah Roberson as Dorothy, Alan Lemaster as the Scarecrow, Caleb Burkey as the Tin Man, and Demetrius "Cooley" Williams as the Cowardly Lion had the audience mesmerized at the likeness of the original cast. Toto was played by Justin Slone's Jack Russell Terrier, Lucy.
With the very talented and creative help of set designer Chad Hughes, you almost felt as if you were stepping onto the yellow brick road. Brian Army once again put his talents to work on designing and creating some amazing costumes. Make-up artists Lisa and Tori Army added just the right touch to the characters that really pulled the show together
It didn't stop there with creativity. Jered Slusher, a 2005 graduate of AE, brought his talents by voice coaching the cast. With a lot of hard work and practice, the characters were not only in complete costume, but they had just the right sounds and mannerisms that totally captivated us all. Spencer directed the live orchestra, which added to the authenticity of the performance.
Athena Long playing the Wicked Witch, whose voice etched into your soul as she let out that creaky and screechy "I'll get you my pretty"! Balancing that with Jillian Plaugher's perfectly soothing voice of Glinda the Good Witch, you just couldn't help swaying to her calm and beautiful singing.
When the winds started and the storm came raging, the sound effects were so amazing that you felt as if you were in the eye of that tornado. It even came complete with a passing cow, as Moorice from The Allen County Fair made an appearance. Each set had just the right furnishings and color schemes. Not once did my attention sway from what was happening. From the bright, cheery and happy Munchkins to the corn field and finding the Scarecrow, my focus never left the stage.
The singing was phenomenal and each performer stayed in character even when small things could have thrown them off. Truly a professional show. Seeing the Tin Man struggle to talk was so believable that you almost fell into thinking he really did rust up. Things were so sightfully real. Imagination actually led you into the deep of the forest. Your heart was beating a little faster and you could just sense the fear of something to come. When the Cowardly Lion jumped out on stage, many jumped in their seats. Once in the poppy fields you felt so relaxed and when the snow fell, it was so realistic that it was refreshing. The scene of Dorothy being locked in the castle was spooky and creepy as the time was running out in the hour glass. Dorothy's tears and fears were so authentic that you could feel it too. The audition committee definitely needs to be commended because each part was filled with just the right actor/actress. All of the dedication to this performance was very evident.
Aunt Em / Glinda the Good Witch was played by Jillian Plaugher, and her brother Cole was Uncle Henry / Emerald City Guard. Alex Emerson was Professor Chester Marvel / The Wizard of Oz, and Bren Emerson was the Mayor. The citizens of MunchkinLand were played by Kayle Binkley and Amanda Lotz. Bryce Bishop was Coroner, Alyssa Thomas Barrister and the three City Fathers were played by Tanner Engle, Levi Hoy, and Ashley Neal. Anna Burkey, Madison Schantz, and Hannah Kramer were the three Tots, while Hunter Sherman, Blake Truex, and Chase Hughes were the three Tough Guys. The fiddler was Trisha Drury, Braggart, Jenny McCombs, and the two School Teachers were Cheyenne Sweigart and Ashlyn Dilbone. Tyler Stevens, Corney Rommell, and Emily Coon were Crows, and Meagan Sanchez, Britny Blair, and Abby Joyner were trees. The Beauticians were Cortney Romell, Emily Coon, Madison Schantz, Anna Burkey, and Hannah Kramer. Trisha Drury, Megan Neal, and Ashley Neal were Polishers and Manicurists were Audra Leffler, Kayle Binkley, and Cheyenne Sweigart. The two Oz Men were Levi Hoy and Blake Truex with Anna Burkey and Madison Schantz playing the two Oz Women. Winkies (Male Chorus) were Blake Truex, Tanner Engle, Tyler Stevens, Justin Slone, Garth McDorman, Grant Dues, and Chase Hughes. Levi Hoy was Winkie General. Nikko (Commander of Monkeys) was Tyler Tafe and other Monkeys were Jon Swaney, Jacob Lawrence, Haley Joseph, Bren Emerson, and Ashlyn Dilbone. Poppies wee Audra Leffler, Trisha Drury, Megan Neal, Ashley Neal, Cortney Romell, Emily Coon, Meagan Sanchez, Britny Blair, Abby Joyner, Anna Burkey, Madison Schantz, Hannah Kramer, Cheyenne Sweigart, Ashlyn Dilbone, Alyssa Thomas, Jenny McCombs, Bryce Bishop, Brennus Emerson, Kayle Binkley, and Amanda Lotz. Blake Truex, tanner Engle, Tyler Stevens, Justin Slone, Cody Lovejoy, Garth McDorman, Grant Dues, Chase Hughes, Tyler Tafe, Levi Hoy, Jon Swaney, Jacob Lawrence, and Cole Plaugher were Snowmen. Orchestra members were Janet Dilbone-Chello, Mike Dilbone-Trumpet, Mitch Dilbone-Trombone, Betsy Seipel-Clarinet/Baritone Saxophone, Nathan Slusher-Clarinet, Eileen Hartles-Keyboard, and Janice Crosina Piano.
What a pleasure to have been in the audience for all three of the performances. These kids have so much talent and it was an honor to see that first hand. The magical land of Oz and that magic that seems to happen with any production that Terri Spencer puts together, gives you a feeling of actually being in the midst of it all. Each class that puts on a play or musical sets a standard for the next. You would think that when something is so unbelievable good, the bar can not possibly be set higher, and surprisingly enough, it gets topped. I do not know what is next on the ticket, but I do know I will be there because missing it really is missing out. Congratulations to all of those who put in so many hours in preparation for this. I am excited for what is to come.