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Pine Grove stages an elaborate 'Wizard of Oz'

From left, Matthew Murphy, 11, Abigail Bowling, 9, Cameron McGee, 11, and Steven Hudson, 11, take the stage last week for Pine Grove’s production of The Wizard of Oz.

CHRIS PRICE | Special to the Times

From left, Matthew Murphy, 11, Abigail Bowling, 9, Cameron McGee, 11, and Steven Hudson, 11, take the stage last week for Pine Grove’s production of The Wizard of Oz.

BROOKSVILLE —Everyone knows the story.

Dorothy gets blown out of Kansas in a twister that carries her to Oz. She meets the Munchkins and a couple of witches, a good one and a not-so-good one who was particularly annoyed because Dorothy's house had just fallen on her sister.

Dorothy follows the yellow brick road to Oz, picks up a few friends along the way, melts the bad witch, which frees the flying monkeys, and clicks her ruby red heels to get back home, which turns out to be a pretty good place after all.

The story has been told on silver screens, on television screens, on big stages and small ones. Pine Grove Elementary School students brought the classic stage rendition to life once again, telling the story that doesn't seem to get old.

The school's production had been in the works since January, when auditions were held.

Among the cast of 100 fourth- and fifth-graders (and two younger students) were fourth-grader Abigail Bowling, 9, who starred as Dorothy, and fifth-graders Steven Hudson, 11, the Scarecrow, Matthew Murphy, 11, the Tin Man, and Cameron McGee, 11, the Lion.

Fifth-grader Ashley Medina, 10, played the mayor of Munchkin Land, fifth-grader Jasmine Jean-Marie, 11, was the green-faced Wicked Witch, fourth-grader Chasity Blevins, 9, was the pink-clad Good Witch, fifth-grader Dakota Butler, 10, was the Oz Gatekeeper and fifth-grader Anthony Duffy, 10, played the Wizard. Toto was really fourth-grader Madeline Bifarella, 9, dressed like a dog.

The production was directed by music teacher Clara Pearson, who was assisted by the principal's secretary, Carol Tarbell. Fifth-grader Jasmine Garrett, 11, was the student stage director.

For audience members unfamiliar with the stage production, the Jitterbugs were an added threat to keep Dorothy and her pals from getting to Oz. These creatures can induce a person to dance endlessly. Unfortunately, the travelers were caught up in that very problem. Luckily, Glenda, the Good Witch, came by and reminded Dorothy about the magic in the ruby slippers, which apparently works well against Jitterbugs.

Once the group arrived at the Emerald City and managed to get the crabby gatekeeper to let them in, they confronted the big blinking wizard head, only to be sent off in search of the Wicked Witch's broom. Of course, the flying monkeys captured them and escorted them to the castle.

The witch's big mistakes were to insist that Dorothy do some mopping, give her a cauldron of water and annoy her. Water and witches don't mix.

Kindergartener Mahima Pedlow, 5, liked the scene in the Emerald City "where the girl was chasing after the lion," referring to the comical pursuit of the lion by an Oz local who didn't much like having a lion in town.

Second-grader Emily DeSario, 8, one of two guest cast members in the show (because their parents were helping), said her favorite part was the tornado that blew Dorothy over the rainbow.

Pine Grove stages an elaborate 'Wizard of Oz' 05/19/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 6:56pm]
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