Ignacio High School will be transformed into the land of Oz this weekend, as Jennifer Boniface’s drama students stage “Wizard of Oz.”
With a cast of about 35 middle and high school students, Boniface said the drama department selected “Wizard” based on who was going to be in the show.
“We had a few different options we were looking at, but mostly we focused on who was going to be in it, and matched up the personalities of the kids with the characters we were going to use,” she said, adding that some of the actors had to audition for their parts, but mostly, roles were given through the drama class at the high school.
And don’t forget the Munchkins and monkeys: Those roles will be played by middle school students.
“Wizard of Oz” is based on the 1939 musical movie that starred Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, who is swept away by a tornado and finds herself in the Land of Oz. She must embark on a journey to get back home to Kansas, and in the process meets three unusual friends: Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.
The movie was based on the book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum.
Boniface said one of the main challenges of putting together a production is scheduling rehearsals around students who are busy with other activities.
“A lot of my kids are also athletes, or they’re part of band or they have jobs,” she said.
Scheduling proved challenging even to Dorothy, played by IHS junior Elizabeth Valdez, who along with acting, also plays basketball for the school and is the student body president.
“It’s been a very hectic year,” she said, but added the effort is worth it, especially because it takes her out of her comfort zone, transporting her into a character who is different than she is.
Elizabeth also said that the bond formed by the cast is another perk of being a member of the cast, which also includes Eli Armendariz as Cowardly Lion, Bryce Finn as Scarecrow and Jeffrey Brittain as Tin Man.
“It’s been super fun, and really fun to work with all our classmates,” she said. “We’re really into working with each other.”
For Boniface, watching students who may not ordinarily be thought of as actors is particularly rewarding, especially because she said she gets to put aside her position as a teacher and work with the students in a different way.
“I’m an English teacher, too, so getting to see that different side of them is just really cool,” she said. “The star sports athlete getting up there singing and dancing; kids who are usually quiet, they’re up there dancing around.”
Boniface has been at IHS for two years. Before that, she taught drama as a club in the middle school before taking over theater at the high school. She said participating in theater can be an important outlet for students.
“It gives them a way to express themselves and just be kids and be who they are,” Boniface said.
“Wizard of Oz” will be performed today and Saturday at the high school.
firstname.lastname@example.orgPine River Times Editor Melanie Brubaker Mazur contributed to this report.