‘Oz:’ A trip down the yellow brick road

There’s no yellow brick road on Education Hill, but the Redmond High School (RHS) Performing Arts Center is where you’ll find Redmond Junior High’s (RJH) musical production of “Oz.” The show opened April 17 and continues at 7:30 p.m. April 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26. There are also matinees at 2:30 p.m. April 19 and 26.

  • Saturday, April 19, 2008 12:00am
  • Life

Sarah Oates performs as Dorothy as the Munchkins run away from her when The Wicked Witch appears during a dress rehearsal of “Oz.”

80 junior high students make up spirited cast

There’s no yellow brick road on Education Hill, but the Redmond High School (RHS) Performing Arts Center is where you’ll find Redmond Junior High’s (RJH) musical production of “Oz.” The show opened April 17 and continues at 7:30 p.m. April 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26. There are also matinees at 2:30 p.m. April 19 and 26.

Tickets are $3 for RJH students, $6 for other children and teens (under 18) and $8 for adults.

Eighty RJH students from grades 7-9 make up the spirited cast of “Oz.” Keeping such a crowd in line is a formidable task. It’s one that’s being expertly handled by director/choreographer Kelly Willis. She’s not a staff member or parent at RJH but for seven years, was the artistic director at the Redmond-based Washington Academy of Performing Arts.

When the academy closed, Willis started working as a choreographer for Sharon Pape, the former drama teacher at Redmond High School. She’s now glad to lend a hand to RJH drama teacher Robert Aguilar.

“Oz” has a double cast so that more kids can participate. All had to audition for the show, but more for placement than any other reason.

“It’s like a no-cut sports try-out,” Willis explained. “I want every kid to feel they have something of value to give and to get from this experience. And for me, theatre is the best team sport. There are no winners or losers — we’re all working together and looking at how the team develops and improves, just as you would with a soccer team.”

She hopes that most of the young performers will take what they’ve learned to the next level. Older students from RHS serve as assistant directors. They’ve worked with Willis before and know her expectations, “so we continue instilling the discipline and professionalism we’ve practiced in this new group of students,” she said.

Ninth grader Geena Pietromonaco, who’s playing The Wicked Witch of the West, described the story of “Oz” as being closer to the book by L. Frank Baum than to the screenplay of the 1939 film, although they’ve retained the movie’s beloved song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

The RHS Performing Arts Center is at 17272 NE 104th St.

For information about “Oz,” contact Robert Aguilar at raguilar@lwsd.org or (425) 885-7034.

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