Danville Express

Living - February 2, 2007

The magic of Oz

Talented cast brings Dorothy and friends to life onstage at Monte Vista

by Jordan M. Doronila

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Monte Vista for an evening filled with singing, dancing and drama.

The Monte Vista High School Theater Arts and Music Department will revive the magic of "The Wizard of Oz" in a musical production next week. The classic story follows teenage heroine Dorothy as she finds her way home to Kansas after a tornado sweeps her away to the magical Land of Oz

"It is the most loved movie and musical in the United States," said Vicki Stadelhofer, Monte Vista Theater Arts director. "Dorothy is lost from home."

"It's a hero's journey," she added. "They feel sorry for her. They feel sorry for her dog. If you continue to have faith, and strive for what you believe, you will succeed in life."

The high school production is at 7 p.m., Wednesday-Friday, Feb. 7-9, at Monte Vista's Al Gentile Theater. Seniors are playing the roles of the musical's main characters. Alex Darby plays Dorothy, Kevin Bradley, Oz; Will Skrip, Scarecrow; and Andrew Bonin, the Tin Man.

And Kelsey Ritter plays the Wicked Witch of the West.

"I happen to have some talented students that can sing," Stadelhofer said. "Students can handle the roles so we are trying the 'Wizard of Oz' this year."

She said many of her student actors plan to pursue the performance arts as a profession. She noted that Ritter is applying to New York University's Tisch School for the Arts and Skrip wants to attain a masters of fine arts degree in musical theater.

"Their ambition is to become performers as adults," said Stadelhofer.

The "Wizard of Oz" production comes fresh after the success of last year's musical, "Bye Bye Birdie." This year's musical marks Stadelhofer's 19th production.

Orchestra Director Chris Person, who was involved in "Bye Bye Birdie," will once again collaborate with Stadelhofer. Moreover, the current actors and actresses who are working in "The Wizard of Oz" also worked in "Bye Bye Birdie."

"These students are so talented that they transform themselves in every show," Stadelhofer said.

Stadelhofer spent 12 years teaching drama at Livermore High School before coming to Monte Vista 17 years ago. She got her start in theater as a singer and an actress; she was in all the plays and musicals in high school and college, and she majored in drama.

Though she does consider herself a musical director, she helps actors find the right note and sometimes sings along as they warm up.

She began her work at Monte Vista by directing "The Nerd," which was rehearsed after school. It had a cast of nine. Then she put on "Happy Days." Because more and more students wanted to get involved, there was a demand for a class in drama. As interest rose, so did her enrollment. She now teaches fulltime and "starts" all her plays in class, casting them and beginning rehearsals.

Monte Vista's Theatre Arts Program has joined the International Thespian Society, and new members are inducted into the organization every spring in a ceremony held at Round Hill Country Club. The group presents 18 awards at the ceremony in its version of the Academy Awards.

Stadelhofer has a wall behind her desk of headshot photos of students who are working professionally.

But for now, her students are following the yellow brick road.

Follow the yellow brick road

What: "The Wizard of Oz"

Who: Monte Vista High School Theater Arts

When: 7 p.m., Feb. 7, 8, 9

Where: Al Gentile Theater, Monte Vista High School, 3131 Stone Valley Road, Danville

Cost: $10

For tickets: Call 552-2878


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