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West Halls Wiz updates those ruby slippers
0508Wiz
West Hall High School students perform "The Wiz" this weekend as the final show of the school year. Nick Williams is the Lion, Rachel Lauria is Dorothy, Alex Hutcheson is Scarecrow and Brandon Millsap is the Tin Man.

Yes, everyone's favorite tornado-blown girl, Dorothy, is still in it, still trying to get home.

Only in this version of the story, she meets some different characters on her journey down the yellow brick road. And the students in West Hall High School's end-of-year production of "The Wiz" are more than happy to sing all about it.

For the final show of the school year, West Hall's musical theater department presents an ensemble production that puts a modern twist on the classic tale of Dorothy and her little dog, Toto.

"It's another more hip version of ‘The Wizard of Oz,'" said senior Rachel Lauria, who plays Dorothy. "There's some different characters, but some of the same characters, like Dorothy, Lion, Tin Man.

"It's just a very upbeat, funny show."

There's also lots of singing and dancing, which comes natural to the cast members, Lauria said. While not all of the cast is part of the school's musical theater class, many are and are accustomed to random bursts of song throughout the day.

"Actually out of nowhere we'll just start singing and dancing," Lauria said. "We're theater kids, so its a lot of fun and you get to be out there and over the top. You never have to be yourself because that's what acting is. And everybody accepts you for who you are."

Senior Chelsea Howard, who plays Glinda's sister, Addaperle, said the key to her role is making it big.

"Especially the hair," she said. "Actually I have a big red and gold shiny wig. ... My friend said I look like a Reese's Cup because my dress is really big and gold."

Howard, who was already familiar with the story of Dorothy and her trip through Oz, said the music and the dialogue is the best part of the production.

"I think the music is great, and it's pretty much the same story except it's more fun," she said.

The idea behind doing the show is similar to her character - making it big. By having an ensemble cast, Lauria said, many students have an opportunity to be on stage before the end of the school year. And by opening up the auditions to outside the musical theater class, she said it makes for a more diverse cast.

"We were looking for a very ensemble-oriented show, a very ensemble cast," she said. "We always do a really big musical at the end of the year, so this is our big one."

And while she's a fan of her solo number, "Home," - which also closes out the show - she noted that the numbers "Y'all Got It" and "He's the Wiz" are fun, too. Because the show also uses pit singers - singers set in front of the stage in the orchestra pit - the overall effect is a more full sound.

"We've done a lot of work on it," she said. "But the big ensemble numbers are dancing, singing, a lot of fun. It's really good."

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