Right now, the yellow brick road is leading to the Salem High School auditorium.
The school’s theatre department is busy preparing for the classic title, “The Wizard of Oz,” which they will be performing on March 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m., and March 12 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale in the school’s main office. Reserved seats are $15 and $8 for students. General Admission seats are $10 and $5 for students.
Once the show begins, the talented cast will have audience members believing they’re not in Salem anymore, as the costumes and impressive set pieces appear to be straight out of the world of Oz.
The show has special significance for theatre instructor Rachel Sailer—not because it is her favorite musical, but because it will be her final musical production before she retires next year. Sailer said she wanted to end with an iconic show.
“I wanted to do something huge, but I didn’t know how huge it was going to be,” Sailer said, laughing. “Everything is a big challenge, but it’s fun too as you solve them.”
Since her husband passed away last year, who typically helped her piece together the set, Sailer said the challenge initially seemed daunting. But students, and their parents, have helped build and paint scenes.
“If there is something we can’t solve, we just do it in a smaller way,” Sailer said. “But the students have been really wonderful, and some fathers have really stepped up.”
One father, skilled in carpentry, built a true to life storm door box.
Sailer is the show’s director, and the huge cast will have vocal assistance from the school’s chorale led by Kristi Vernon, and the orchestra led by Jim Paxton. Sandra Smeltzer is the show’s choreographer, and Rebekah Moore is the stage manager—along with Dorothy’s Aunt Em.
“I thought this show would be really popular and involve a lot of students,” Sailer said.
The cast has been rehearsing since returning to school from winter break.
Payton Johnson and Mayme Todd, who were busy touching up costumes at rehearsal last week, are excited to showcase their moves. Both girls, along with Sailer, agree the action packed show is enhanced by the live dancing, as cast members transform into whirling tornadoes, and jitterbug away.
Johnson will step into the role of Glenda, “The Good Witch of the North,” while the less welcoming sister, “The Wicked Witch,” will be played by Sierra Boynton. Boynton said it may have been her spot on impression the witch’s cackling that landed her the part.
At the show’s center, AnnElse Galleo will play the role of Dorothy. Galleo, though not a theatre student, was an obvious choice for the role, agreed her castmates.
“I’ve never been in a drama class before, so coming into this is kind of weird,” Galleo said.
“She can do everything– act, sing and dance,” Boynton added.
Adam Pierce will play the Lion, Kyle Fauber the Tinman, and Ben Lewis the Scarecrow. Ben Kennedy is prepared to take on the role of the Wizard of Oz. Joining the cast will be Salem’s own elementary school students, who will play the show’s Munchkins.
“For me personally, I just moved from Connecticut, so coming into a new school was a little difficult,” Pierce said. “But I find that being with a group of people that is dedicated to something like this group is very helpful.”
Lewis, who stays busy between theatre and captaining the school’s state champion forensics team, was busy rehearsing lines from his scarecrow post last week as Dorothy looked on, puzzled and wondering how to help.
The iconic scene is just part of what audience members will have to look forward to. The show will be nostalgic for those who grew up with the story, with plenty of twists and turns along the way.