November 20th, 2021
The Wizard of Oz was a magical show that transported the audience to the land of conniving witches, cheerful munchkins and yellow brick roads. After months of taxing preparation, the result was a grand success. With over 150 students involved in the musical as the cast, stage crew, and orchestra pit, this musical showcased the diverse talents we have at HKIS.
To gain more insight into the process of creating The Wizard of Oz, I interviewed Zooey Lundgren (10) and Noa Yehudayan (11), who had the honor of playing the lead role, Dorothy. Zooey’s highlight of participating in this musical was getting to know each member of the cast. “I think some of the closest relationships I’ve ever had have come from participating in musicals,” she recalled. “The long rehearsals really accelerate the bonding.”
Noa’s favorite part was the freedom she had to shape and create her interpretation of Dorothy’s approach to the classic song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. “This is important to me because not only does it show Dorothy’s characterization in the beginning, but with this song, I was able to make the audience fall in love with it as though they had just heard it for the first time,” she explained.
Noa and Zooey flawlessly portrayed Dorothy’s innocent and curious character. However, underneath the lines executed with the perfect blend of emotion and actions timed to precise moments, the two actresses had their own Wicked Witch of the West to overcome.
“Since the show was double cast, Zooey and I had to run every other scene, making us focus on some scenes more than others, and not running the show fully. It was a stressful process for both of us to handle, and I felt very unprepared for the show,” Noa revealed. “But the minute the pit band started playing, seeing all the audience members made me feel confident about how amazing of a show it was going to turn out.”
For Zooey, her challenge was starting the play on the right foot. “The first scene is always the scariest for me because it sets the tone for the entire production,” Zooey said. “But as long as the show is off to a good start, you can start to have fun with your character.”
Zooey and Noa both agreed that playing the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz contributed to their growth as actresses. “It’s built my confidence up, as I never felt like I had the potential to get the honor to play such an iconic role,” Zooey said. “I’ve learned so much about theater in general, and what certain aspects of acting add to your performance.”
For Noa, this production helped her improve her characterization and enabled her to communicate the message to the audience effectively. “Even though Dorothy might be a ‘simple’ character, it has been challenging for me to portray [Dorothy’s] happiness and positivity to every she meets."
This musical also helped both of them grow as people. “I got to share the role of Dorothy with Noa Yehudayan, which was amazing!" Zooey said. “Sharing a role always has the potential for jealousy, but I was so lucky that we ended up being so supportive for one another. I’ve grown so much because of her.”
For Noa, playing Dorothy led her to learn from this character. “In many ways, [Dorothy] taught me as a person how to be patient with others, and when it comes to listening to conflicts from my peers and friends, I need to be more open-minded about them and not focus too much about myself.”
Noa and Zooey’s passion for the theater shone through. Noa said, “Acting is a passion of mine because you can act like someone you’re not and share that character with the audience as you bring them to life. It’s always great to see the looks on the audience’s faces when you perform, but the comments you receive after the performance makes me very excited to continue my love for acting."
Zooey said, “I’m a bit new to acting, but I’ve always loved to sing, so watching musicals made me fantasize about getting to be on stage and perform for others.” However, as a new student in her freshman year, she did not feel inclined to audition for last year’s musical. “After watching it though, it made me realize how much I wanted to be a part of something like that. When auditions came around this year, I was more than excited!”
Zooey and Noa’s responses give us an insider’s perspective on the sheer amount of effort, time, and energy that was put into The Wizard of Oz. Needless to say, it all was worth it. The magnificent acting, melodic music and captivating visuals intertwined together to create a spectacular musical that left the audience with the heartwarming message: there's no place like home.