A Trip to Oz

By M. Scott Morris / NEMS Daily Journal

When the shoes are red, the streets are yellow and the monkeys fly, you know you’re not in Kansas any more.
But you might be in New Albany.
The Tallahatchie River Players will present a youth production of “The Wizard of Oz” on Friday and Saturday at the New Albany High School Auditorium.
You’ll get not one, not two, not three – let’s cut to the chase – you’ll get a total of six Dorothys for the price of one.
Director Renee Reid has been working with 102 young performers, and she needed to find parts for all of them.
“We had so many kids who tried out,” she said, “so we had to go back to the script and try to figure out how to get them on stage.”
Chloe Lang, 11, plays Dorothy during the first couple of scenes, which are her favorites.
“I like being in Munchkin Land,” Lang said, “and I like seeing Glinda the Good Witch. She’s very pretty.”
Grace Aldridge, 10, has been perfecting the art of being a graceful Good Witch. She loves the puffy pink dress, and she has a fairy tale lilt to her voice when she says, “Hello, there.”
The only drawback she reported was the crown.
“It kind of itches,” she said.
That’s a problem you’d expect Meg Bramlett to have with her Cowardly Lion costume. It gets warm under the fur and latex mask for the 11-year-old, who tended to pull her lion sleeves up over her elbows during a recent rehearsal.
“My costume helps me get more into character. That’s how I get to be more of a lion,” said Meg, who can deliver an effective roar on command.
Eli Jackson, 11, gets to do his own stunts as one of two actors portraying the Scarecrow. In one scene, he falls off a post.
“It’s easy. You just roll,” he said. “It feels good, actually.”
Stillness is what matters to Aaron Estes, 10. He plays the Tin Man, a character who’s been allowed to go to rust before Dorothy shows up.
“I’m learning that you have to be very still,” he said, “and not move around a lot.”
The young actors have been getting under the skin, fur and/or metal of their characters since May.
Pretty soon, their summer of hard work will pay off with a trip to the wonderful Land of Oz, where the shoes are red, the road is yellow and the monkeys fly.
“It incorporates music, dance and acting, and the basic story of good vs. evil,” Reid said. “It’s also a chance to see these kids really shine.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@djournal.com.

More information
The Tallahatchie River Players’ youth production of “The Wizard of Oz” will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 13 and Saturday, Aug. 14 at New Albany High School Auditorium. Tickets are $10. (662) 534-3438.