Middle School Drama Club with a New Take on an American Classic
Severn’s 6th and 7th grade drama club took the stage last Friday evening for a Wizard of Oz performance like none before. Based on L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the production explored themes from American history through the telling of this classic fairy tale. From the wicked witch of the wild wild west to the industrial worker munchkins of Oz, the characters in the play led us down a different yellow brick road than the one we recognize from Broadway ... and with much success!
Six Weeks 'Til Showtime
Drama club is a fall elective open to 6th and 7th graders who are interested in the performing arts. In previous years, the club staged a collection of scenes for their fall performance. This year, with the support of Lower School Drama Director Ms. Chelsea Padro and and set design by Technical Theater Director Ms. Heather Mork, the kids staged a full, hour-long production. From auditions to the night of the performance, the kids had only six weeks to prepare, sometimes with three rehearsals per week. Their dedication paid off as parents and peers watched familiar Wizard of Oz characters take the stage and tell a tale of Oz rooted in the American past.
A Historical Twist
Ms. Padro explains the basis for the adaptation in her director’s notes:
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is considered the first American fairy tale because of its references to clear American locations such as Kansas and Omaha. Baum agreed with authors such as Lewis Carroll that fantasy literature was important for children, but he also wanted to create a story that had recognizable American elements in it, such as farming and industrialization. Characters in this play are represented through these themes, along with other important American historical events such as, westward expansion, the Wild Wild West, and the Trail of Tears.
“This version is based off of the original book, which is much different than the musical. I was inspired to do the play based on critical research about the book itself, which many credit as the first truly American fairy tale. I wanted the kids to recognize the play, but be challenged to explore the characters in a new way.” — Ms. Padro
“What a joy it is to have Ms. Padro from the lower school come to the middle school in the fall to direct the 6th and 7th grade play. Ms. Padro has worked with many of our students in the Lower School and her passion and talent gives our Middle School students an opportunity to learn, create, and express themselves.” — Middle School Arts Chair Cathy Hewitt Carper '81
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