On the heels of Central’s production of Wizard of Oz came an Off-Broadway production. In the eyes of reviewer Abby Donnelly, the students’ production was better.
While popular stereotypes might typify high school theatre as forcing nervous, hormonal teenagers to kiss on stage, a real question is why high school theatre students can’t be just as talented and professional as paid actors.
Recently I saw an Off-Broadway touring group perform The Wizard of Oz at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. It was phenomenal and the performers were very talented (strong suits include singing, dancing, and acting!). Yet as a Central High School student and a dedicated play attendee, I spent the whole play observing what was different from CHS’s production of The Wizard of Oz in the spring of 2017.
Not surprisingly, the Off-Broadway touring group had more elaborate costumes and set designs, but in many ways the two shows were very comparable. Rose Lamoureaux, who played Dorothy in Central’s production, played her part wonderfully and, I think, stunned everyone with her amazing singing abilities. She provided not only a childlike tone but a youthful appearance, making her part as Dorothy more believable, I think, than the Off-Broadway’s actress.
One advantage the Off-Broadway shows have, as well as Black Hills Community Theater and other theaters open to the public, is that they can cast people of all ages. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, for example, were grown adults rather than high school students, adding to the experience and reality of the play as a whole.
The students of Central’s theatre department are amazing, needless to say, and should give themselves a big pat on the back, as in my eyes Central performed just as well as the Off-Broadway cast.
Justice Theis, a senior at Central High School as well as a former munchkin/jitterbug in the Central production of The Wizard of Oz, also saw the Off-Broadway production and agreed that the sets and costumes were noticeably “fan-diddly-tastic” and claimed, “The actress that played Dorothy used too much vibrato when she sang,” and she put too much false youth in her voice. She also observed that Central’s costume crew provided Dorothy with three costume changes, adding a symbolic platform to the play, while Off-Broadway’s Dorothy didn’t have any costume changes. Theis claims, “They missed an opportunity to do something really great there.”
The students of Central’s theatre department are amazing, needless to say, and should give themselves a big pat on the back, as in my eyes Central performed just as well as the Off-Broadway cast, given each situation (concerning money and age selection). With 13 superior state titles at the State One Acts Festival (and hopefully a 14th coming) Justin Speck and Joey Lore have helped their theatre students reach their full potential, and there’s no doubt that Central’s theatre department is home to “the hardest working kids in show business.”