Tornado season already has arrived and ravaged many areas of the U.S. This terrifying weather phenomenon also is the backdrop for the classic story, "The Wizard of Oz."
After the success of the 1939 motion picture, the show was turned into a musical stage production. Calvert High School is to present its version of the show at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the school gymnasium.
The curtain rises on the Kansas farm of Auntie Em and Uncle Henry, played by Alyssa Kapelka and Johnny Hayes. Living with them is their niece, Dorothy (Lauren Kerr), whose closest companion is her dog, Toto.
Trouble arises when Toto bites Miss Gulch (Gina Grandillo), and the cantankerous woman insists Dorothy surrender her "dangerous" pet. Dorothy wishes she could be "Somewhere, Over the Rainbow" where everyone would be kind and happy.
Rather than lose her best friend, Dorothy and Toto decide to run away. They cross paths with a traveling medicine man, Dr. Marvel, played by Kory Wise. When the weather becomes threatening, Marvel convinces Dorothy to go home and take cover. By the time she returns, her aunt and uncle and the hired help have retreated to the storm cellar.
A twister churns toward the farm and shakes the house with Dorothy and Toto inside. When the lights come up, the setting changes to Oz as it appears in Dorothy's dream.
Auntie Em is transformed into the good witch Glinda. Dorothy is greeted by the Munchkins, portrayed by students. (Those who look closely may be able to pick out two adults, Marilyn Seislove and Tami Weber, among the Munchkins.) The little people are elated to be rid of the Wicked Witch of the East, who was crushed by Dorothy's house.
The coroner (Will Wagner) confirms the witch is "sincerely dead," and the Mayor of Munchkin City (Conner Stocker) congratulates Dorothy. The Lollipop Guild and Lullaby League also present her with gifts of appreciation and a song, "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead," but their celebration is interrupted. Miss Gulch has turned into the Wicked Witch of the West. She demands Dorothy give her the ruby slippers that have appeared on her feet. Glinda persuades her to depart, which she does with a flare.
Dorothy is told to "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" to find the Wizard of Oz. He can help her find a way back to Kansas. Along the way, she meets the Scarecrow (Kim Tiell), as a trio of crows is mocking him. Scarecrow, the Tin Man (Cayden Kapelka) and the Lion (Dan Kwiat) decide to go with Dorothy to make their own requests from the wizard. They pass through an orchard of talking apple trees.
The witch appears on a video screen to voice displeasure at the travelers' progress and her plot to stop them with a field of poppies. Dorothy and Lion are overcome with sleep as Tin Man and Scarecrow call for help. The video changes to an image of Glinda, who sends a blanket of snow to chill the flowers. By this time, the four friends have reached the outskirts of Oz.
More difficulties arise in Act II as the witch captures the foursome with a flock of flying monkeys. Somehow, the friends are able to escape and arrive at the wizard's palace. Dorothy has a difficult time saying goodbye to Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion when Glinda arranges for her return home.
In addition to those named, high school students in the chorus and minor character roles are Monica Bickley, Rebecca Cummings, Jordan Gase, Kayla Kirchner, Ellen Lang, Amanda Traxler, Ian Warnement and Alana Widman.
The cast also includes elementary students Olivia Wagner, Olivia Webb, Jackson Cook, Madison Schumacher, Nicolas Seifert and Eddy Willman.
Students on the crew are Margaret Bowers, Kristan Bowers, Joseph Boehler, Mark Fowler, Morgan Krupp, Sarah Goshe and Alexis White.
Directing the production is Elizabeth Tracy. Kathy Felton is choreographer. She and Vanessa Cook took care of costuming.
The pit orchestra includes Cynthia Ramsdell, Seth Innis, Hannah Mathias, Kelsey Haynes, Robert Burdett, Cy Boehler and Lucas Walter.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. For reservations and information, call (419) 447-3844. The school is at 152 Madison St.