Dorothy (played by Allison Poole) and Scarecrow (played by Quin Clothier) discover a rusted Tin Man (played by Roan Janssen) during a dress rehearsal of the Ballenas Secondary School theatre program’s production of The Wizard of Oz, premiering Feb. 14. — Adam Kveton Photo

They’re off to see the wizard at Parksville school

Ballenas theatre production premiers Feb. 14

Ballenas students are preparing to bring audiences into the strange and colourful world of Oz with their upcoming stage production premiering Feb. 14.

Dozens of theatre students at Ballenas Secondary School have been working to bring to life musical’s classic characters, from the shaking, mumbling cowardly lion to the self-doubting scarecrow, the evil, shrieking Wicked Witch of the West and more in a show that promises to be fun for kids and adults alike, said teacher/director Doug Campbell.

“I wanted to do a family show that people could bring their kids to see, and I thought something timeless, something that has sort of universal appeal,” said Campbell of choosing to do The Wizard of Oz.

“There is something about the Wizard of Oz that always satisfies. Also, I thought we had a really great Dorothy for this, and she’s proven to be.”

There’s a significant number of characters with two actors who will be trading off the roles, said Campbell, with the idea being to give as many students as possible a chance to play lead roles.

“They all bring their own unique flavour to the role, which is cool,” he said. “It’s been good, but it means double the rehearsal time.”

Those who grew up with The Wizard of Oz, or even saw the movie in theatres may be happy to know that pretty much all of the student actors were already aware of the story or had seen the movie, said Campbell.

He said doing a play like this can be especially appealing to teenagers, as it let’s them pull faces and go to some extremes in their acting.

“There’s, again, something appealing, especially to teenagers about getting to put aside their own personalities, any kind of real-world concerns,” he said. “They don’t have to act normal. They can be louder than life, larger than life, a little bit crazier than life.”

Some of the actors, like Maggie Hope playing the Wicked Witch of the West, was already quite into her role, giving off loud, satisfying shrieks and evil glares during the group’s first dress rehearsal on Jan. 31.

Others need a little more coaxing, said Campbell, though he said he expects to see their energy grow quite a bit in the lead up to the premier.

It’s a combination of the excitement of the coming performance, as well as feeling comfortable in their characters that brings an “explosion” of energy, he said.

While there are plenty of memorable moments in The Wizard of Oz to look forward to, Campbell said he’s particularly excited for people to see the witch-melting scene. “When she gets doused with water, the witch puts on quite a show,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”

The Ballenas Secondary School production of The Wizard of Oz premiers on Feb. 14 at Whalebone Theatre at BSS, starting at 7 p.m. Other performances will take place Feb. 15 at 7 p.m., Feb. 16 at 2 p.m., Feb. 21 at 7 p.m., Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 23 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids and $25 for a family pass. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or online at the Ballenas Store: ybstore.friesens.com/stores/302050

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