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PJH students off to see the Wizard

 - Bill Mickelson/Staff Photo
— image credit: Bill Mickelson/Staff Photo

POULSBO — From Kansas to the Land of Oz, from the cornfield home of the scarecrow to the enchanted forest ... Poulsbo Junior High’s performance of this all-time classic is sure to take folks on a journey of fantasy where the goal of the quest is strangely enough to escape back into the real world.

“The idea (behind the show) is searching in another place but finding what you’re looking for in your own backyard,” said retired NKHS drama teacher and the show’s director Sharon Ferguson. “Friends and family are most important.”

Friends, family and community alike are invited to PJH’s performance of the fanciful musical, “The Wizard of Oz.”

A cast of more than 60 students — and a backstage crew of 25 — from PJH have been reviewing the elements of L. Frank Baum’s masterpiece since the beginning of the school year. Many people have been involved with rehearsal and preparation of the theater in addition to the students who will be taking the stage, Ferguson said.

“The best part of (working with PJH) is that the whole faculty gets involved,” Ferguson said, noting that this will be her third show with the junior high and 65th show overall in her 30 years in North Kitsap. “A lot of people have been helping out.”

On the musical side of the production, PJH music teacher Julie Gallant has been working with the young actors’ pitches and harmonies, while Tito Ramsy (one of Ferguson’s previous students) will be directing a 10-person orchestra. And choreography director Skip Kongela has been helping the students get in step with it all.

Skipping down the yellow brick road, Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow will travel through many different scenes as they make their way to the Emerald City, and encounter a plethora of characters throughout. Each set design and character costume has been an intricate effort, Ferguson said.

“The set is very elaborate,” Ferguson said. “And we have many Munchkins and Ozians and Winkies and flying monkeys, all with elaborate costumes.”

Loretta Young and Coleen Lutin have been helping with the production’s costume design while Doug Demoral has been working with the students to create the sets, Ferguson said. Settings include the masterful Emerald City gates, a haunted forest filled with foam trees, a rotating house in which Dorothy resides, a cornfield and even a homeward bound hot air balloon — just to name a few.

“It’s very good live theatre with talented kids who have learned to make the commitment,” Ferguson said. “When you see it, you will be able to tell it’s not a small endeavor. It has all of the components (of theatre).”

The students have mastered 28 scenes for this two-act play over the past four months solely during after-school rehearsals as the performance is not part of a class production, but rather that of PJH’s Associated Student Body. Through the hours of practice the cast has learned, “There is no place like home.”

“If people are concerned about the (upcoming) levy then they need to come see the wonderful things these kids are doing,” Ferguson said.

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