Arts and Entertainment

‘Wizard of Oz’ comes to Shoultes Elementary

MARYSVILLE — Even after three years, Shoultes Elementary's school plays still manage to surprise Nancy Hammer.

Hammer, a 15-year teacher at Shoultes who's also served as a school librarian for the past few years, has directed versions of "Beauty and the Beast" and "Peter Pan" in the past two years that were specifically adapted for large casts of young performers. This year's version of "The Wizard of Oz" boasted 38 students in the cast, only three more than last year's play, but it presented new challenges nonetheless.

"I knew that doing 'The Wizard of Oz' would entail so much more work than the others," Hammer said of the play, which was presented March 17 and 18. "I really didn't want to go to the thrift store to try and pull things together that looked like the characters, so I started right after Halloween and purchased costumes for half-off, praying that they would fit the performers that got the parts."

Hammer went online to find costumes such as the Cowardly Lion and Toto, which were purchased and given to Shoultes by the Schmidt family. The school's PTSA supplied the remaining funding for the play.

While Hammer had been able to create a backdrop for last year's "Peter Pan" by using the other side of the backdrop from "Beauty and the Beast" the year before, she had to start from scratch with this year's backdrop, buying large table cloths new and sewing them together. Because she was unable to obtain them at a thrift store, she wound up paying $100 for them, for which she was reimbursed by Troy Van Horn from the Venture Church down the street from the school.

"Teachers in the district were so wonderful for reaching out and helping us this year," Hammer said. "Aleesha Paddleford from the Marysville Arts & Technology High School volunteered her students and made a movable screen to use as Dorothy's house. Jeff Tillinghast, from the International School of Communications at Marysville Getchell High School, turned our antiquated sound system into a well-oiled machine by lugging his own equipment into our old gym and working his magic. Even my 89-year-old parents could easily hear my little thespians. Andrew Christopher and his video production crew from ISC also came in to capture those precious moments on stage forever by video taping the performance."

Now that Shoultes has sets, props and costumes for three different plays, Hammer plans to take advantage of these reusable resources.

"The kids and I are already gearing up for "Beauty and the Beast' again next year," Hammer said.

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