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Members of the cast of The Wizard of Oz in a recent rehearsal: Top, Dillon Moreland; lower, from left - Kaylie Rhoades, Maria Batt, Shelby Rodeffer and Caleb Hines.

    We all know The Wizard of Oz, the one we grew up with - but you may not have heard (if I may offer, coyly), the previously wonderful wizard has been upgraded and is henceforth the Superlatively Incredible Wizard of Oz. The upgrade takes effect next weekend at Winchester Community High School.

    The Winchester Community High School choral department will present the musical The Wizard of Oz Friday, March 15 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 17 at 3 p.m. at the Robert G. Jones Auditorium. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the WCHS office and, unless the performances are sold out, at the door the day of each show.

    “The students are working really, really hard in rehearsals,” said WCHS Musical Director Amber Hines. “All of the students this year have a really good work ethic. I have lots of good senior leaders who are really taking ownership and responsibility. Rehearsals are going exactly as I had planned.”

    Hines said past WCHS musical productions have set a high standard of excellence which drives her to work harder and be more accomplished. Having been present for recent rehearsals, I can’t say I disagree.

    “I always feel pressured to produce outstanding productions,” she said. “I work with a really good team and I always try to put people around me who help fill in the gaps. Kyle Osting is doing our choreography and he does a fantastic job with that - so that really helps.

    “Also, I have some community people who are helping to build the set and they do a really nice job. By bringing people around me that are helpful, that alleviates some of the pressure.”

    Hines said she’s happy with where rehearsals are now - a week prior to the main public performances.

    “Overall, students are working hard and putting in the effort that I’ve asked,” she said. “I’ve been happy with that.”

    Highlights of this year’s production (besides the wonderful music we all know) include a tap dance number with 18 dancers, choreographed by Osting; The Wicked Witch has a contemporary twist on her costume; and there is also some cool technology and special effects.

    And - if he doesn’t steal the show, he may at least steal your heart - the dog Hank Salazar as Toto is the most well-behaved Toto we could ask for, Hines said.

    Including the stage crew, 115 total students are involved in the production.

    WCHS has partnered with the Tipton and Muncie civic theaters for costume assistance.

    Retired Driver Middle School Musical Director Mary Clark did a junior version of The Wizard of Oz in dinner theatre that included some members of the current cast when they were seventh graders. Cast members who have the same role now as include Ashley Baldwin as the Wicked Witch, Daygen Armstrong as The Wizard and Emily McCoy as Glinda, the Good Witch.

    Wizard of Oz cast members:

    Maria Batt as Dorothy Gale; Emily McCoy as Glinda, The Good Witch/Auntie Em; Ashley Baldwin as Miss Almira Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West; Dillon Moreland, Zeke/Cowardly Lion; Caleb Hines, Hickory/Tinman; Shelby Rodeffer, Hunk/Scarecrow; Daygen Armstrong, Wizard of Oz/Professor Marvel; Kaylie Rhoades, Emerald City Guard; Joshua Gooden, Uncle Henry; Kate Hendrickson, Anna Shores, Jalanie Ruth, Ella Baldwin -- trees; Aaliyah Beatty, Savanna Staton, Megan Fulton and Kerry Addington -- crows; Justin Brutchen, Winkie General; Cyler Burk, Maddox Rose and Malachi Riddle -- Winkies; Heather “Niki” Retter, Nikko, Commander of Monkeys; Seth Garrett, Seth Howard, Gage Franke and Levi Hines -- Flying Monkeys; and, Hank Salazar as Toto.

    Chorus and dancers:

    Emma Baldwin; Lauren Harris; Kiana Champ; Liz Clayborn; Kimberly Dirksen; Lydia Foreman; Katlin Wendel; Abi Garrett; Kaydence Foudray; Deborah Gonkpah; Tyler Jarrett; Raven Miller; Josclyn Pollitt; Zoe Whitehead; Ryanne Wisner; Marah Cain; Patricia Alberson; Alivia McCoy; Gracie Cowper; Alivia Unger; Hope Alberson; Kelby Rhoades; Lynlee Malkey; Sydney Conn; and Madyson Hummel.

    Munchkins and Jitterbugs:

    Brynleigh Jackson; Daisy Acree; Kali Firestone; Kelly Martin; Lindey Rees; Mariah Shoenlein; Payson Hoblit; Austin Kolp; Bryce Weigand; Kingston Bogue; Dreayden Carter; Gavin Sheets; Hunter Kolp; Hunter Patterson; Kendall Abernathy; Bryson Law; Luke Scott; Oliver Welch; Adrianna Welch; Adrian Ray; Alenza Cox; Aubrey Hudson; Auden Hummel; Carah Kolp; Cassidy Burk; Charity Jenkins; Dani Rose; Erica Grubbs; Evelyn Nordyke; Grace Pearson; Gracie Patterson; Gretta Welch; Jorja Anderson; Julie Cockerill; Kendall Patterson; Layla Rose; Lilly Zigler; Madelyn Hines; Maegan Williams; Maggie Covert; Mahala Willis; RyAnn James; Sophia Donnelly; Sophia Good; Stella Harris; Trinity Culbertson; Zoe Lacy; Zoey Hoover; Claire Lash; Scarlet Lash; and Julia Hines.

    Stage crew:

    Macie Burge; Makenna Gibson; Cheyanne Hackler; Makayla Cole; Mabrey Haney; Mercades James; Michael Neville; April Pollitt; Drew Reed; Kira Robinson; Kati Thornburg; and Grant Wagner.

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