From following the COVID guidelines to following the yellow brick road, the Sweet Home High School Music Department is set to put on another show stopping musical for the 2020-2021 school year. Although later then the typical March show dates, the music department is determined to provide a musical opportunity to High School students. This April, the department is transporting you to the land of Oz with this year’s musical, The Wizard of Oz.
For those unfamiliar, The Wizard of Oz follows Dorothy and her dog, Toto, as their Kansas house is taken by a tornado to the land of Oz. Upon landing, Dorothy and Toto follow the yellow brick to the Emerald City and along the way encounter a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Lion, all of whom are looking to gain something using the Wizard’s help. The Wizard quests the group with bringing him the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West in order to receive his help.
Unlike years past, this year is going to look different for much of the production process. Rehearsals cannot be held in-person like a typical year, and instead will be conducted via virtual meetings in which the cast will learn the music and dance through recorded practice tracks. The music department has secured rights to three versions of The Wizard of Oz, including live rights, recorded rights and streaming rights, meaning no matter what happens the show can be performed for an audience of some type. The musical’s director, Mrs. Ross, stated “We [as a department] believe it’s possible to [put on this production] safely by utilizing virtual rehearsals. We have obtained three licenses for the show in order to adapt to the changing situation because we believe the arts are important.”
As for COVID safety, the musical choice was impacted by the ongoing pandemic. “We wanted to select a show that if given the opportunity to perform on stage we could social distance and wear masks that would blend in easily with the costumes.” Mrs. Ross stressed the safety of everyone involved, and did hint at the ability for the show to be streamed for family members who can’t attend a live show should the district allow audience members to be in the auditorium. “It is too soon to tell [if audience members will be allowed]. Safety is paramount. We are considering many options that will give students an experience while still keeping everyone safe.”
As for those interested in auditioning for the musical, a sign up sheet and audition materials can be found at this link or via a QR code on the backstage entrance. Auditions will be held virtually and are expected to be completed by January 25th with a cast list following within the next week. Mrs. Ross did discuss utilizing understudies and possibly double casting lead roles in the event a lead cast member tests positive for COVID. “Just like anything else, the health department and the school will do their contact tracing and quarantine whoever necessary. We will utilize [understudies and other cast members] to continue the production.”
Just like many other events that are occuring during the pandemic, the musical plan is constantly evolving based on community and school case rates and the music department is working their hardest to provide a meaningful experience for all students. A show date of April 23rd is currently in the works, and it relies heavily on the continuation of remote learning as well as a low case rate in the High School building and the surrounding community.
Pictures used in this article are from last year’s production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We will continue to follow the musical process and will publish new information as it become available. For up to date information, follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Matt is in his Junior year of high school and enjoys soccer and music. His focus this year will be maintaining The Panther Eye website and social medias.