The World of Oz seems to have suddenly descended on VP’s world. In mid-March, the Village Youth Theatre held tryouts for their upcoming production of “The Wizard of Oz.” Almost 100 young thespians between the ages of 8 and 18 turned out for auditions. Director and choreographer Shelly Fager-Bajorek and Music Director, Debbie Tedrick, whittled down the auditionees to a mere 40 who will appear on stage in the production slated to run from June 20 through June 23. Aside from this show casting its spell on the Playhouse, why does Oz seem to be all around us?
If you are of a certain age, like me, the Wizard of Oz was a special movie shown on television just once a year, around Thanksgiving. It was pretty much standard viewing for families who at the time actually watch television together. Note that this was pre-cable (if you can even imagine such a thing) where in Detroit you had exactly six channels from which to choose (2, 4, 7, 9, 50 & 56).
Ah, but I digress. Today belongs to the young, and we asked some of the gang involved in the VYT production about the upcoming show.
Dorothy is being played by stage veteran Sarah Camisa, a ninth grader at Seaholm High School. Sarah will be familiar to VYT regulars from her appearances in “Oliver,” “Mulan,”and “Putnam County Spelling Bee.” She studies voice with Debbie Tedrick, dances on a dance team, and recently appeared in Seaholm’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Sarah says she “really, really likes doing shows at Village Players,” in part because everyone involved is “super” to work with. We like Sarah, too, and hope she’ll continue to be involved.
Speaking of involved, you would be challenged to be more involved than the Johnston family with three, count ‘em, three kids in the show. “Four,” adds mom, Megan, “if you count our four-year-old who likes to help out as an assistant.” The thespians in the Johnston family include eighth grader, Lily; sixth grader, Ben; and fourth grader, Emelia, all of whom have roles in this show and have been in previous VYT shows. Megan, a former teacher, now full-time mom (driver, coach, nurse, counselor, referee, etc.), has assisted in practically every aspect of VYT productions, from costumes to hair and makeup to meals. Dad, Chris, also gets involved building sets and wrangling kids backstage during performances. Big sister Lily is the one who initially got the whole family involved in theatre. “They love it,” Mom reports. “They come home singing all the songs and practice together.” Megan notes that the audition, with about 100 kids running about “was the craziest audition they have ever been at.” Yeah, and we’re not in Kansas anymore either! –Gary Mach