‘The Wizard of Oz’ opens tonight at BCHS



A book that was released in 1900 and a movie version that came out in 1939 still enamors people today.

That’s one reason Brownstown Central High School Choral Director Stephanie Brock chose to stage “The Wizard of Oz” as this year’s musical.

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The show is at 7 p.m. today and Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday in the auditorium at the school, 500 N. Elm St., Brownstown. Tickets are $10.

“It’s a classic,” Brock said. “It never gets old, and it appeals to every generation, so I think that was one of the things that drew me to choose it.”

Each year when selecting the musical, Brock said she has to look at her students’ talents.

“I don’t really precast, but if it’s a show that’s heavy on boys, I’ve got to make sure I have a lot of boys,” she said. “I knew from last year that I had a lot of boy talent this year, and so when I started looking at how many male characters it would take to pull this off, that was definitely a factor in the decision-making process.”

Going into auditions, she said the boys had particular roles in mind. That included Andrew Wheeles, who is playing the Scarecrow, Josh Rogers, playing the Lion, and Griffin Stidam, playing the Tin Man.

“When they came into auditions, there was no doubt. They sold that part. When Josh did the Lion, I thought I was in the movie. It was so good,” Brock said. “They worked for it. When they are passionate about it, they prepare for it, and it shows in the audition and then their practices. I think it has been cast well. I have a team of about five people that do that. I feel like we cast spot-on this year.”

This is the first time for Brock to direct “The Wizard of Oz,” but she said former director Jan Willey did it a few times, the last being 2009.

The classic musical fantasy’s main character is Dorothy Gale, a young Kansas farm girl who dreams of a land “somewhere over the rainbow.” Her dream comes true when she, her dog, Toto, and her family’s house are transported by a tornado to a bright and magical world unlike anything she has seen before.

Unfortunately, she makes a mortal enemy of a wicked witch when the house falls on the hag’s sister. Now, befriended by a scarecrow without a brain, a tin man with no heart and a cowardly lion — and protected by a pair of enchanted ruby slippers — Dorothy sets off along a yellow brick road for the Emerald City to beseech the all-powerful Wizard of Oz for his help to return home.

Senior Emma Johnson plays the role of Dorothy Gale.

“I’ve always liked ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and Dorothy is more of a character I can relate to,” she said.

Wheeles, Rogers and Stidam — all juniors — knew they wanted to play one of the main roles.

“I wanted one of these parts, but I can’t do the Lion voice, so it was either this or Tin Man, but I really wanted Scarecrow,” Wheeles said. “He’s goofy, clueless all the time, kind of has no common sense and I get to flop all around.”

Rogers said he “absolutely” wanted to be the Lion because he has always practiced his unique voice and laugh.

“He’s a lot of fun to be because he was my favorite in the movie,” he said.

Stidam said it was easy to narrow down his preference.

“I couldn’t do the voice (of the Lion) or the Scarecrow because it’s basically me, but also, Tin Man is my favorite character,” he said. “The one scene in the movie where he floats up and just drops down, it’s great.”

For the cast, the opportunity to share a classic is special.

“It’s a bit of a relief because when we say we’re in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ everyone knows what we’re talking about, instead of some musicals, no one knows what that is,” Rogers said.

“Along with that, we’ve seen the reserve ticket list every day is basically completely packed, so it’s like everyone knows what it is, so everyone will come see it,” Wheeles said. “It’s a big weight off our shoulders because last year, we did ‘The Little Mermaid’ and it was like the biggest show ever, so everyone was like, ‘What will they do next?’ This is classic, so everyone has heard of it.”

The popularity of the show sets the bar high, which is a little bit nerve-racking, Johnson said.

“Because everyone has seen it, and so they are expecting a lot,” she said.

Stidam said he’s ready to put on the show.

“Honestly, I find it as an honor that we get to do a show as great as this,” he said.

Brock said the stage props are bigger than she has ever used, and they were made by Blake Hackman’s classes.

“They do amazing,” she said. “I cannot praise them enough. They just do phenomenal.”

Crystal Stuckwisch again is in charge of costumes, and she received help from Maxine Brock and the quilting club with which she’s involved.

“Her vision is just tremendous,” Brock said of Stuckwisch. “Then her mom, Maxine Brock, and the quilting club pitch in and make these costumes for these kids, and they are better than anything that I could rent. It’s nice to have people in the community giving their talents and efforts for these kids and for this program because it certainly doesn’t happen with one director.”

Brock also praised Assistant Director Alisha Griffin, saying, “I say every year, she’s my right arm. I couldn’t do this without her,” and she said the cast is great.

“I have to say this group is incredibly talented,” she said. “They’ve been very professional to work with, which makes it very nice for me and Mrs. Griffin. It has been wonderful, the kids are great and I have no doubt that the performances will shine.”

Another first for Brock is casting a live animal. Wheeles’ dog, Scooby, plays the role of Dorothy Gale’s dog, Toto.

“We’ve got a talented dog and well-liked. I hope he doesn’t get a big head and attitude after this,” she joked. “I’m going to miss him so terribly. I’ve said I’m probably going to have to drop papers and have visitation rights because I am so attached to this little dog. He’s precious.”

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What: Brownstown Central High School choral department’s production of “The Wizard of Oz”

When: 7 p.m. today and Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday (doors open an hour before each performance)

Where: Auditorium at Brownstown Central High School, 500 N. Elm St., Brownstown

Tickets: $10 (children in kindergarten and up must purchase a ticket; younger than kindergarten if occupying a seat must have a ticket); they may be purchased in advance from any principal cast member, The Peoples Bank, Family Drug or Azteca Mexican Restaurant in Brownstown

Reserved seating: Call Stephanie Brock at 812-358-3453

Director: Stephanie Brock

Assistant director: Alisha Griffin

Principal cast: Emma Johnson, Laney Warren, Ashlyn Fox, Abby Stuckwisch, Rehgen Stuckwisch, Andrew Wheeles, Griffin Stidam, Josh Rogers, Sam Pace, Brandon Wilson, Gabe Edwards, Colton Hallow, Grant Elliott, Brandon Hamm, Evan Rohlfing, Scooby Wheeles

Chorus: Lily Abdulbari, Rachel Adkins, Cara Baker, Karol Baker, Micah Ballard, Emily Barnes, Brooklyn Baughman, Kaylee Branaman, Dylan Bridges, Lydia Chandler, Gabe Edwards, Grant Elliott, Ashlyn Fox, Maddie Gibson, Colton Hallow, Brandon Hamm, Emma Hamm, Alexis Harmon, Rachel Hildebrand, Emma Hughbanks, Chesney Johnson, Jenna Lowery, Becca Lucas, Chelsea Luedeman, Destiny Luttrell, Karrigon Mails, Sam Pace, Jenna Ratliff, Alli Reynolds, Kaitlynn Robinson, Evan Rohlfing, Addie Shelton, Abby Stuckwisch, Lacey Sweany, Shayla Sweany, Holden Tovey, Aubree VanCoutren, Klarissa Wilburn, Lexi Williams, Brandon Wilson, Kailey Wischmeier, Lauren Wood, Jazzlynn Yeadon

Stage crew: Chloe Covert, Chandler Day, Mackenzie Edwards, Tiara Edwards, Destiny Faught, Hannah Hackman, Shaylee Hall-Monde, Avery Koch, Dustyn Kocsis, Sophia McKinney, Riley Nuss, Lance Roark, Abby Schoenherr, Stephanie Sunderman, Evan Williams


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