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New Ulm High School Presents… The Wizard of Oz

Dorothy, played by Abby Hietala, sings “Over the Rainbow.”

NEW ULM — Make sure your ruby slippers and a bucket of water are by your side because the Wicked Witch of the West is on the prowl.

New Ulm High School will present its latest play, “The Wizard of Oz,” opening Thursday, Nov. 14 in the high school’s auditorium.

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“The Wizard of Oz” opens 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14. Additional showtimes are 7 p.m. Nov. 15 and 2 p.m. Nov. 16 through Nov. 17. Cost is $10 for adults and $7 for students. All shows are in the auditorium at New Ulm High School.

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Photos by Gage Cureton Dorothy (Abby Hietala) and the Scarecrow (Rachel Hohensee) meet on the Yellow Brick Road in the New Ulm High School production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

The play, adapted from the classic American musical fantasy film, tells the story of a young girl who’s transported to the mystical Land of Oz via a tornado.

Play co-directors Kim Horning and Sarah Thursby said “The Wizard of Oz” was chosen because they wanted to temporarily shift away from more modern productions like “Newsies” that played earlier this year in March, and focus on an audience that encompasses an array of age groups.

“I think ‘Newsies’ was definitely geared toward a teenaged student level and we wanted to focus on a different audience,” Thursby said.

Production on “The Wizard of Oz” began during the final weeks of summer break during a student theater camp. Horning said auditions for roles began during the last week of August, and production has been moving forward since. Having a team of two co-directors and a choreographer benefits the play production, she said.

“There’s three of us so it’s really nice,” Horning said. “Sarah (Thursby) takes the lead on the staging aspect of the show and then I deal with the music side teaching the kids the songs. Then Sarah O’Brien is our choreographer and she’s taught many of the chorus dances and some small number ensemble dances as well.”

The Wicked Witch of the West, played by Ellie Wilker, threatens Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion.

Student courses at NUHS have also been a part of the production with much of the set built by students in the intro to woodworking class, and production itself is run by students in the theater production class. The high school’s play productions serve as a “hands-on” experience for students to apply the skills learned in the class.

Thursby said the students have put a great deal of their time into designing visual effects for the play such as a flying house, lights, fog and the famous melting scene where the Wicked Witch of the West perishes.

“This is all student run, and I think that’s cool that kids get that opportunity to make that happen in the middle of the show in front of a live audience,” she said.

Thursby said production has moved fast as the Nov. 14 opener approaches. Students have applied a lot of their time to plan, create and rehearse the play. During auditioning in August, Thursby and Horning said they chose students who are flexible and willing to adapt to changes.

“It seems like a long time, two and a half months, but it goes by very quickly when the high schoolers are in a multitude of activities, they have six classes a day, and then this and life. So it’s important to find somebody that has a lot of those pieces in the puzzle,” Thursby said.

Dorothy (Abby Hietala) and the Scarecrow (Rachel Hohensee) apply some oil to the Tin Man (Jace Addy) in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“Students are so busy, like Ms. Thursby said, with having many activities that they partake in a week,” Horning said. “At times attendance can be ‘iffy.’ If you’re missing one person on a scene, it’s hard for the others to run it. They get through it because they have to, but there’s times where that has been a difficult part of the show.”

Both Horning and Thursby said they commend students for their adaptability and flexibility while preparing for the play.

New Ulm High School’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” is produced in arrangement with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

“WIZARD OF OZ” CAST:

Abby Hietala Dorothy

The Cowardly Lion (Braydon Hoffmann) threatens Dorothy (Abby Hietala), the Tin Man (Jace Addy) and the Scarecrow (Rachel Hohensee) as they travel to see the Wizard.

Rachel Hohensee Hunk/Scarecrow;

Jace Addy Hickory/Tinman;

Braydon Hoffmann Zeke/Lion

Maddie Nelson Aunt Em

Gene van der Velden Glinda/Tree

Ethan Horning Uncle Henry/Guard/Snowman/Crow

Ellie Wilker Ms. Gulch/Witch

Jacob Martinka Professor Marvel/Oz, Mayor, Crow

Chorus: Alex Vigil, Brea Roth, Josie Ringhofer, Celia Fluegge, Will Larson, Collin Horning, Audrey Beranek, Ellidi Mielke, Paige Jacobs, Renae Juni, Makenna Simpson, Braden Bolduan, Lillian Fred, Jenna Ebert, Abigail Juni, Maddie Nelson, Alexis Rustin, Arianna Urch, Lizzy Wilfahrt and Katie Wilker.

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