We’re Off to See the Musical, The Wonderful ‘Wizard of Oz’


Photo by Ki Joon Lee

Freshmen Eric Hao, Rachel Abalos and Youssef Yassim depart for Emerald City.

Maryam Shama and Ki Joon Lee

Through a careful selection process, roles were chosen to embody the characters in the fictional world of “Wizard of Oz.” While the date may seem far, the performers, stage crew and staff are already preparing every day to perfect the performance; the cast and pit orchestra meet for multiple hours each week after school, while the technical theater class creates the set and costumes during their sixth period class.

“It’s a lot of responsibilities, but our passion for singing and the theater will make it a good production,” said freshman Rachel Abalos (Dorothy). “It’s a really fun experience and I am really grateful that we have this at our school. I am excited for what we are going to do in the future for the production.”

Meanwhile, the directors of the production support each student contributor with their expertise on a certain field, such as dancing or singing.

“Right now all the directors are working in their own little spheres. Mrs. Kirby is working on acting, blocking and staging. Mr. Rangel is working on the singing. I am working on the instrumental music,” VAPA department chair Desmond Stevens said. “But as we get closer and closer to April and May, and things start to come together, I am really excited for that moment where all five of us are working together, and the whole cast is working together.”

From the main character Dorothy to the last Munchkin, cast members collaborate to embody the bright atmosphere of the Land of Oz. Despite the hours of commitment afterschool, the actors seem to maintain their enthusiasm and passion for the musical through their vocal and theatrical training.

“We have to go with the flow and make sure that we are ready, and also because all of the main roles have different skills and have different weaknesses we have to work through as a team, and when one falls behind we will wait for them to catch up,” freshman Eric Hao (scarecrow) said.

As the second spring musical by the VAPA department, this year’s production is anticipated to be grander than last year’s “The Lion King Jr..” With a bigger budget and more contributors, directors are planning to integrate more sensory spectacles for the audience, including live music and vivid sets.

“In terms of scale of production, we are talking a lot bigger. Last year, it was just actors and singers, and we had pre-recorded music that we played, and the sets were very minimal,” Stevens said. “This year, we are looking at having a full pit orchestra with almost 30 students down below, actors playing live music throughout the entire show, and additionally the sets will be more elaborate.”

In the end, the VAPA department aims to create a production that will not only entertain the audience but also create a reputation for the school’s future musicals.

“We want to create an experience for the community to come and see a production that will introduce them to performing arts in a way that they might not have experienced before…to build a solid foundation for Portola’s drama department and to set a positive example and an expectation,” drama teacher and director Megan Kirby said.