An Oz-some Production: From Dorothy to the Wizard, expect excitement from the characters in beloved musical


Emily Evans, a Frenship High School senior, rehearses a tune from “The Wizard of Oz” in the new FHS Performing Arts Center. Evans will portray Glenda the Good Witch.

For RaeAnne Gwin, a junior at Frenship High School, playing the role Dorothy in the upcoming FHS choir department production of “The Wizard of Oz” is a dream come true.

The Frenship choir is presenting the hit Broadway musical on May 17, 18 and 19 in the new FHS Performing Arts Center. The show will begin at 7 p.m. nightly, with tickets for lower level seating at $15 and for upper level seating at $10.

The production will feature the Texas Tech Faculty Orchestra as well as the Frenship Choirs.

Tickets are on sale online at the FHS Choir website, www.frenshiphschoir.com.

Gwin said her favorite part of the production is stepping into Judy Garland’s figurative red slippers.

“I try to be just like Judy Garland in the movie,” she said. She loves the part of Dorothy because she has such a big imagination.

Gwin’s favorite tune from the musical is her own solo, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”

This is Gwin’s first year at FHS. Last year, she said she starred in a musical at Eastland High School as the princess in “When In Rome.”

Last semester at FHS, she was one of the three “silly girls” following Gaston around in the FHS theater production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

“I’ve been singing my whole life and have been in theater since I was able to be in theater,” Gwin said.

Other FHS students are equally excited about presenting “The Wizard of Oz.”

Emily Evans, whom Frenship musical fans might recognize as Mrs. Potts from “Beauty and the Beast,” Madame Giry from last spring’s “Phantom of the Opera” and Lady Larken from “Once Upon a Mattress,” will play Glenda the Good Witch in “Oz.”

“I love it. I’m really excited,” Evans said.

But the senior will not be playing the part as much like the movie production. Instead, Glenda will be quirky, fun and younger, as well as motherly to Dorothy.

“It’s a twist from the original Glenda in the movie,” Evans said. “I am a little nervous about how we’re changing her character. I hope the audience embraces the differences.”

Evans also will appear as Auntie Em, and she is also a little nervous about her transformation, which she said will take just a matter of minutes.

And there’s also the matter of flying twice in the show, she said.

“It’ll be fun,” Evans said.

Evans’ nemesis in the show is actually a good friend in real life at FHS.

Maria Pedraza, a senior, will portray the Wicked Witch and has a knack for the cackle.

“At my audition, I got really into the character, and I got really excited,” Pedraza said. “I guess it’s just something I can do.”

She likes the role of the Wicked Witch because she enjoys scaring little kids and the humor of the role.

Prior to this, she had performed small roles in “South Pacific” and “Phantom of the Opera.”

Pedraza will perform “The Jitterbug,” a song she said originally was sung by Dorothy.

“It made more sense for the witch to sing it,” she said. “There’s this huge dance number while I’m singing. It’s a lot of fun.”

When audience members see “Oz,” Pedraza said, she hopes they don’t compare it too much to “Phantom of the Opera.” She hopes they will think both musicals were really well done.

“I think everyone in the choir is excited,” Pedraza said. “It’s going to be spectacular.”

Luke Voorhies, a junior, is stepping into the role of the Scarecrow.

Voorhies said while his father teases him about his main song, “If I Only Had A Brain,” his mother is too protective of him to engage in such jokes.

Voorhies has no compunction about performing such jokes on his mother, though. He initially told his parents he did not get the role and was an understudy. His mother, he said, was outraged.

“I let them sit. They stewed” for days, he said. Once he told him he actually had gotten the part, they were excited and started conference calling with relatives.

“I’m kind of comic relief in the show,” Voorhies said. “I hope I get a few laughs.”

Voorhies said he has been an extra in “Phantom of the Opera” and Monsieur Dark in “Beauty and the Beast” in previous Frenship productions.

He said although he has allergies, he’s not too worried about wearing the straw for the Scarecrow’s outfit. He’ll wear a shirt underneath an overshirt, which should protect him from the straw.

James Tapley, a senior, will play the Lion.

“It’s a load of fun because the lion’s real over-the-top,” he said. This will give him the opportunity to overact and be funny, Tapley said.

He said he was happy to get any part, even though he had wanted to play the Lion. When he got a text from a friend telling him he got the role, he didn’t believe it until he saw his name on the listing with his own eyes.

Tapley has also performed roles in “South Pacific,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Once Upon A Mattress” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Angelo Condez, a senior, will play the role of the Tinman, which he said will be made from an old metal trash can.

“It’s going to be loud and clangy,” he said, and he said it will take effort to learn to move in it.

“I love the part,” Condez said. “I just want people to die of laughter from my over-dramatic acting.”

Recently he played Cogsworth in “Beauty and the Beast” and Firmen in “Phantom of the Opera.”

Condez described “The Wizard of Oz” as an explosion of color, especially compared to last year’s choir musical.

“Everything’s going to be so different than ‘Phantom,’ ” he said.

Parker Merrill, a senior, will be the Wizard.

Merrill said he wanted to try out for the role of the Scarecrow, but he realized there was a lot of dancing involved. Dancing is not his talent, he said, but being loud is.

“It just applied to me, because it’s my personality times 10,” he said.

Most of the Wizard’s role is acting, Merrill said, but he does have a few singing bits.

Merrill said he’s been in many choir musicals, but has performed as the Jester in “Once Upon A Mattress” and Judge Ural in “Seussical.” He ran the sound for “Beauty and the Beast.”

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