Take a trip with Dorothy and the gang in Folsom school play

By: Eileen Wilson, Telegraph Correspondent
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What: “The Wizard of Oz”
When: 7 p.m. May 8-10
Where: St. John Notre Dame School, 309 Montrose Drive, Folsom
Tickets: $8 adult, $5 student

FOLSOM, CA - Who doesn’t love the wonderful “Wizard of Oz?”  Well, the wizard, he ain’t so great – but author, Frank L. Baum has created a special world called Oz that has been thrilling both young and old for more than 100 years.

It’s no coincidence that readers and theater lovers enjoy Baum’s work. The author penned 14 Oz books, as well several fantasy novels, short stories, poems and scripts during his lifetime. But it was the Oz stories that became bestsellers, and have been showcased in numerous incantations of the original, as well.

And St. John Notre Dame School in Folsom has chosen a condensed version of the original tale, which is a bit shorter than the full stage version, but still packs a mighty punch.

Director, Kathy Curtis, who is also a fourth-grade teacher and choir director at the school, can’t wait to see the magical story come to life.

“We have been performing over-the-top musicals for 13 years, and I have been doing Christmas musicals with SJNDS for 28 years,” Curtis said.  “We have 70 cast members, ranging from first to eighth graders, and several of these students include our tech crew, which helps with props, set changes, lighting and sound.”

Curtis credits her co-director, 5th grade teacher, Mary Robinson and her 7th grade student director, for bringing the show to life.

The story, as you may remember, includes a girl, a really scary witch, and lots of fun and interesting characters like a lion, scarecrow and tin man along the way.  Oz is a classic good vs. evil story, in which goodness and love will always prevail.

If you can imagine a harried choreographer carefully guiding groups of munchkins who are dancing and singing in the most elaborate costumes, then you have a good idea of how much fun the show will be – both for the audience and for the young performers.

What’s most important to Curtis is giving kids an opportunity to participate in live performance.

“I love to expose them to theater.  Not everyone excels in sports or academics.  Theater gives a lot of kids an area in which to shine,” Curtis said.  “A lot of quiet kids love to perform.  You wouldn’t think that would be the case, but some of the show’s main characters are quiet when they are off stage.  Kids just step outside of their bodies when they are creating a different character.”

Volunteer, Abby Enriquez knows how important performing is for kids. 

“It’s such fun, as a parent, to watch my child have the time of her life doing something that she absolutely loves,” she said.

Enriquez is the mom to one Cowardly Lion, also known as Maggie Enriquez.

“I feel that theater is so important for kids because it’s a terrific medium for keeping children active and engaged.  Theater provides benefits these kids can carry with them throughout their adult lives, such as public speaking and self confidence.”

Curtis agrees.  She said the sense of confidence kids get from performing is just amazing.  The show also gives students an opportunity to interact with kids from other grade levels.  Many of her students who help on the tech side will go on to high school and college working technical details at their school’s theater.

With lots of hard work on the part of parent volunteers, directors, costumers, set designers and especially the students, the nearly sold-out show will bring a world of fantasy and magic to the stage on opening night.