Brittany Olson decided to try out for the school musical.
No stranger to the stage, Olson sang in middle school musicals and had been performing since she was a little girl. “My parents brought me up on the stage,” she said.
Nonetheless, the Goshen High School junior had never performed in a Goshen High School show before. Olson decided to audition.
“I got a role,” she said. That’s both accurate and understatement. Olson landed the role of Dorothy, no small part in “The Wizard of Oz.” She gets to sing “Over the Rainbow.”
“It’s all fun,” Olson said of her part prior to a rehearsal this week. In the world of musical theater, Olson also gets swept up by a tornado, befriends a Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion, and encounters witches both Good and Wicked.
And she has a little dog, too. When not on stage, “Toto” goes by the name Leo, and is owned by David Martinez.
“He varies from day to day,” Olson said of working with her canine co-star. “He gets a little excited when there are a bunch of people onstage. But he does pretty good overall.”
Olson is familiar with the MGM “Wizard of Oz” film. Prepping for her role, she indicated, involved “watching it every night — trying to get from Point A to Point B, taking tips from what (Judy Garland) does.”
Cinema was also a guide to getting into character for Madeline Yost, who plays the Wicked Witch.
“I knew what I needed to do, and then when I got on stage it was incredibly hard,” Yost said. “I didn’t think it would be hard. But watching the movie, and having different references from different movies, really helped kind of mesh and become one character.”
It’s a character Yost enjoys bringing to life onstage.
“It’s fun just being wicked,” she said. “It’s easy to be nice and pretty and cute. But being wicked, not a lot of people let themselves go there. And playing that role is so much fun.”
“Oz” director Marcia Yost said she hopes the audience feels free to get involved with the musical. The goal is for the audience to experience the show, not simply watch it. “We will attempt to bring it to life with your help in such a way that we will all feel like we have made the journey with Dorothy,” Yost states in her director’s notes.
Principal cast members in “The Wizard of Oz” include:
Dorothy — Brittany Olson
Toto — Leo
Uncle Henry/Guard — Ben Wineland
Auntie Em — Miranda Earnhart
Hunk/Scarecrow — Anthony Campagna
Hickory/Tin Man — Ben Ganger
Zeke/Lion — Samuel DeMoya
Professor/Oz — Patrick Rieth
Glinda — Breanna Bloom
Miss Gultch/Wicked Witch — Madeline Yost
Munchkin Mayor — Austin Reith
Munchkin Barrister — MacKenzie Yoder
Munchkin Coroner — Levi DeMoya
Winkie General — Tyler Buss
Nikko (Head Monkey) — Josh Miller
Director — Marcia Yost
Assistant director — Susan Hepler Yoder
Production manager — Richard Snyder
Costumes — Sue Neeb
Props/house manager — Patty Morgan
Choreography — Jackie Jerlecki and Kristyn Taylor
If you want to go
“The Wizard of Oz” debuts at 7:30 tonight in the Goshen High School auditorium. Performances are also set for 7:30 Friday and Saturday, with 2:30 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets cost $9 for adults and $7 for children through grade 12. To make reservations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 533-8651.
Due to ticket demand, an additional “Wizard of Oz” show has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday. The ticket prices are the same, but reservations aren’t being taken for the performance. These tickets for general-admission seating are “cash and carry” and went on sale Wednesday.