The Jenison High School Thespians and Music Department took on a legendary classic for the first musical production in the new Jenison Center for the Arts and they did not disappoint! Performing to a sold out run for the first time in Jenison theatre history, the classic story of Dorothy finding her way back to Kansas was beautifully performed by the hundreds of actors, musicians, crew members and support staff.
Tryouts began after Christmas but rehearsals were thwarted by the many snow days this winter. Bringing the show together with those set backs didn’t stop the group from being the kind of team required of this massive production. Kim Nagy, Vocal Director, says that is what impressed her most: “The kids have just done an absolutely incredible job, everybody has completely pulled together. This has been the tightest cast we’ve ever worked with and absolutely delightful to work with from beginning to end. Mr Avery stresses professionalism with the students and they live up to that.”
Senior Jenna Bassett was thrilled to play the Wicked Witch of the West which is her “dream role”, “I love being the villain; it’s really fun” and plans to try out for roles at the Civic Theatre in Grand Rapids after graduation because “it’s something, that once you get started you never want to leave”.
Will Docsa, a senior originally from a small town in Kentucky, played the great and powerful Oz and spoke about the role and his time with Jenison Theatre with a bright smile and unmatched enthusiasm. “I didn’t really fit in very well, I was sort of an outcast and loner but I was encouraged by my English 9 teacher, Mr Brossiet, to join theatre and I really just flourished here.” Never having considered theatre before he caught the keen eye of Mr. Brossiet during a class reading of Romeo and Juliet, “I was reading it very dramatically and he recommended it and I thought I’d give it a shot.” The role of Oz is one of his favorites and was particularly impressed with the culmination of the teams that came together for the pre-recorded pieces such as tech, audio, camera, make up and editing, “it’s one of the most incredible things I’ve seen Jenison theatre ever do.”
Will is also quick to give props to Mr. Avery, not only for his directorial abilities but the important role he plays in Will’s life: “Mr Avery has always been like a father figure to me and without him I probably wouldn’t have gotten as successful in high school as I am today.”
“The show is bittersweet because it’s my last show here but our first show in the space”, says Katherine Searcy, playing the role of Dorothy. Amazingly, Katherine had not seen The Wizard of Oz until two years ago, but she was excited for the opportunity nonetheless. For her, singing and performing in the new space “is a little scary but it makes me really happy, it really does.”
The new theatre really got to stretch its wings by showing off the special effects required of this show such as a tornado, flying monkeys, a flying witch and even Miss Gultch riding her bike while flying through the air! Of course, Toto [played by Lulu Byrne] stole his fair number of scenes as Dorothy did her best to keep him close. The musical accompaniment led by Orchestra Director Dave Zomborsky, was positively professional and the entire musical team were the hidden stars of the show.
“The community came together to give us the wonderful gift of the new performing arts center. With our production of The Wizard of OZ, our hope was to take that gift and give one of our own in return. We love our gift and hope everyone enjoyed their gift, as well. It was a joy to work with my fellow directors and this great cast, crew and orchestra full of talented young people. History was made with this production, and it was an honor to be a part of it.” Mr. Todd Avery, Director
Congratulations to the team for a fantastic run and an incredible job well done! As always, you make us proud!