Belmont brings beloved classic to the stage in Saanich

Wizard of Oz demands balancing expectations with fresh approach

(From left) Alycia MacIlroy

It may be true there’s no place like home, but Belmont secondary drama students are taking over a foreign stage for their production of The Wizard of Oz.

Belmont’s Prometheus Players are putting on a production of the family favourite made famous by the 1939 film staring Judy Garland. The students are bringing their own take to the iconic classic at Spectrum community school starting April 3.

“It’s been an honour getting to know these iconic characters and putting our own twists on them, bringing them to life yet again,” said Grade 12 actor Alycia MacIlory, who stars as Dorothy.

One of the greatest challenges for teacher/director Melissa Young and the students has been adapting such a colourful and special effects-heavy production to the stage and keeping it recognizable for audiences so familiar with the movie.

“People grow up watching this film. Adults come up to me and they’re just so excited that we’re doing this show,” Young said. “I think we’ve done our best to walk that line between meeting that expectation, but also adding in our own creative twist.”

Touches such as turning the tornado into a dance and projecting the yellow brick road using lighting help to bring the story to the stage. Some fire and snow effects can also be expected.

Helping the cause is a donated professional set from Carousel Theatre for Young People in Vancouver. The set used by the company for a production of the play last Christmas has been set up at Spectrum by Belmont theatre students mentored by professionals.

A small army of students is working behind the scenes to bring the production to life. Belmont students do nearly all aspects of production, including lighting, stage direction, props, makeup, costumes and set creation.

Some of the actors grew up watching the movie. Since starting rehearsals, they’ve been looking into L. Frank Baum’s original novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and other stage adaptations.

“We all knew we wanted to be a part of it. We were all very excited,” MacIlroy said.

“When I was really little, I went and saw it so many times when it was in replayed in the theatres,” Scarecrow actor Nik Neral said. “I would stand up on the seat and spoil it for everyone, saying ‘The twist is coming.’”

Added Kevin Lockwood, who plays the Tin Man: “It’s nice being able to do a classic like this.”

The Wizard of Oz plays April 3, 4 and 5 at 7 p.m. and on April 5 at 2 p.m. Tickets ($12.50 for adults, $10.50 for students and seniors) can be purchased in advance at the Belmont office or by calling the school at 250-478-5501.

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com