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LOHS is off to Munchkinland

by: David Kinder, Greg Talbott as Tin Man, Colin Keating as Cowardly Lion, Brandon Vance as Scarecrow, Jesselyn Parks as Dorothy, and Happy as Toto.

Flying witches, multiple sets, 43 elementary kids, a live dog… It's a big endeavor for Lake Oswego High School to put on 'Wizard of Oz.' Bigger than they've ever tried, said director Bob McGranahan.

'Having elementary kids and a live dog on stage is not something you do ever because they'll steal a show,' said McGranahan. 'But hopefully they will.'

The kids, who play munchkins, were chosen from 104 third through sixth graders from the four elementary schools that feed Lake Oswego High School. And Toto will be played by Happy, who has played the role twice before - once at Sunset and once at David Douglas.

'So he's the most experienced actor on the stage,' McGranahan joked.

Since so many people grew up watching the 1939 film with Judy Garland, it's both a blessing and a curse, said Jesselyn Parks, who plays Dorothy. For the principal actors, it's been a matter of finding a 'hybrid of what you have to do to make the role recognizable and what is personal and unique,' said Greg Talbott, who plays the Tin Man.

The original actors who played the Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion were all vaudeville actors, so it isn't too easy to imitate. 'It's taken me a lot of time to develop (the Scarecrow) and get used to his mannerisms,' said Brandon Vance, the actor who portrays him.

For others, it's learning a voice - 'I'm working on my cackle,' said Natalie Grant, the wicked witch. 'It's so much fun. I have to totally ham it up.'

Meanwhile, the wizard, played by Cary Fenton, has two different voices he's been working on. 'It's a higher, squeakier voice when I'm in a jam,' he said. 'Otherwise, it's a loud bass. It's kind of like playing two people.'

McGranahan seems pleased with where the actors are at with one more week before opening night. 'None of the actors are doing the movie. They're finding their own, real humanity in those characters,' he said.

Music director Cole Blume agrees. That's what he's trying to do with the music. 'It's a pretty standard part of pop culture,' he said. 'We're trying to stay as true as possible to what people know but bring it energy and youthfulness.'