Students perform first musical in years

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Chester High School students finish their opening night production of “Oz” on April 26 with an inspiring performance of the song “Home.” Photo by Samantha P. Hawthorne
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Samantha P. Hawthorne

  Dorothy and her friends skipped down the yellow brick road through the Land of Oz and all the way to the Chester Elementary School gymnasium April 26 and 27 to perform in a Chester High School musical.

  The combined cast of more than 40 drama and music students collaborated to perform “Oz,” a musical adaption of the timeless tale “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

  The young thespians provided plenty of entertainment and wit, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats in amusement. During several scenes, the cast even engaged audience participation by dancing with select spectators, and choosing others to conspire with the Wicked Witch of the West, played by Annie Sylvester.

  Playing the part of Oz, Moises McCulloch captivated the audience with his dance and singing skills and had everyone roaring in laughter. McCulloch wrote in a reflection of his performance, “The adrenaline rush was amazing and I wouldn’t trade anything for it.” He also admitted to having a bit of stage fright, as this was his first time dancing and singing in front of a live audience.

  The innocence portrayed by Jessica Brown was the perfect addition to her role as Dorothy.

  Caleb Callegos, playing the Scarecrow, actually appeared to be a few bushels short of a haystack until Oz granted him a “brain.” With his newly acquired English accent, the Scarecrow’s wish came true and the audience burst into laughter.

  The rest of the cast members did equally well, and, according to drama teacher Celeste Higby, they enjoyed everything about the play. She said John Leal, Lucas Carmichael, Colin Houlihan and Rocklin Loranger, who played the fighting trees in Scene 3, thought their performance was “award-winning.”      

  The school’s pit band, consisting of David Brown on bass, Ben Erickson on guitar and Chris Davies on drums, accompanied music teacher and pianist Jane Brown in a musical concert that added additional character to the stage performance.

  Higby said more than $1,200 was made from this drama production, which is the most they have ever made. She also said they had the biggest audience a CHS production has ever gathered. All proceeds collected will go to financing the school’s next dramatic production.

  “Personally I feel a great deal of pride because they run the entire show, including backstage, lights and sound. My students were so elated at the conclusion of this play, and as a teacher and director, nothing give me more happiness than seeing them so confident and successful!” said Higby.

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