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'The Wizard of Oz' comes to the Victoria Fine Arts Center (Video)

By Carolina Astrain
Jan. 5, 2013 at 12:01 a.m.
Updated Jan. 5, 2013 at 7:06 p.m.

Victoria East High School cast members of "The Wizard of Oz," from left, Cassidy Hoad, 17; Dante Williams, 18; Elliot Queen, 17; Symone Williams, 16; Ally Grahm, 16; and Heather Grosenbacher, 18,  on stage. The musical will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the VISD Fine Arts Center.

Red and yellow leaves rest on a body suit spray-painted with pink and green streaks.

A shimmering, pant-legged figure lugs a thickly padded lion costume across stage.

Blue light reflects off the tip of a chrome-colored tin man ensemble.

Friendly smirks are exchanged between the Victoria East High School students dripping with a bittersweet truth - showtime is nigh.

"It's been daunting," said Victoria East senior Ian Moore. "But it's starting to turn into a good show."

"The Wizard of Oz," a districtwide, musical production including 140 students from Victoria school district campuses, opens at VISD's Fine Arts Center stage Friday night.

A cadre of cast members collected at the high school's auditorium on a rainy Wednesday night for a semi-costumed reading of the famed musical's script.

Victoria East theater director Amanda Heinold said her department petitioned strongly for funding from the school district to help pay for the show's royalties, which totalled about $4,000.

The entire production, including costumes, set design and royalties, came to a total of $7,000, said the director.

"We wouldn't be able to do this without help from the district," Heinold said. "This show will be the largest in the school's history."

The director said proceeds from ticket sales will return to a school musical production fund for future shows.

While the principal roles of the show will be played by East Titans, roles such as munchkins, generals and other bit players will be filled by the high school's feeder elementary and middle schools.

"We'll even have students from West helping us out with tech," Heinold said. "Our band and drill team directors have also been a big help."

At the September tryouts, senior Elliot Queen, 17, said he remembers wanting to snag the lion's role.

"My favorite character growing up was always the lion," said Elliot wearing the silver-padded tin man's suit. "But Ms. Heinold thought differently, and I'm very grateful for that."

The initial missing extras and the gradual build of team morale aside, Elliot said moving props between the high school's auditorium and Fine Arts Center has been the main challenge for the cast the last few months.

"Things start to go missing or can't fit into Ms. Heinold's car," Queen said. "It's been exhausting."

Additional help moving costumes and set pieces along the three-mile journey between the center and school has been provided by the Fine Arts Center's director, said Heinold.

But transportation isn't the only obstacle students will have to face.

After it's all over, they'll have to say goodbye to their late nights and long Saturdays together.

"I'm going to be really sad when it's all over," said sophomore Symone Williams, who is playing the role of the lion. "But it's nice knowing the community has our back."



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