La PORTE — La Porte students will lead audiences over the rainbow and along the yellow brick road toward the Emerald City this weekend, as the high school stages its production of the beloved musical, “The Wizard of Oz.”

An encore performances of the student musical will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the high school’s performing arts center, 602 F St., La Porte.

Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased online at ticketracker.com or at the door.

The musical is a straight forward adaption of the classic 1939 film, based on L. Frank Baum’s novel, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” The play focuses on the adventures of Dorothy Gale, a young Kansas girl who is swept away by a twister to the magical world of Oz. 

To return home to her family, Dorothy travels along the yellow brick road toward the Emerald City, where she must seek help from the mighty Wizard of Oz. Along the way, she meets the Scarecrow, who wants a brain, the Tin Woodman, who desires a heart, and the Cowardly Lion, who needs courage, with all three joining her on her adventure to meet the wizard. 

Standing in their way is The Wicked Witch of the West, who pursues the group to obtain Dorothy’s magical ruby slippers, once owned by her late sister before Glinda the Good Witch of the North gave them to the young girl for safekeeping.

“It’s a wonderful story about appreciating home,” said Rich Snyder, the director of the LPHS production.

Audiences can expect Dorothy and her friends’ magical adventure to play out just like they remember from the film, Snyder said. The play uses the same beloved musical numbers from the film, including the “Over the Rainbow” and “We’re Off to See the Wizard,” as well as the swing piece, “The Jitterbug,” which the filmmakers cut from the movie.

True to the story’s theme of “There’s No Place Like Home,” La Porte-native Snyder is leading the show’s cast of more than 60 La Porte Community Schools students. 

The production is the Snyder’s first since the school corporation named him director of the performing arts center in September, though the La Porte man has plenty of experience behind the director’s chair. The former La Porte Little Theatre Club actor has worked in theater education for nearly 20 years, directing student productions with Goshen Community Schools and John Glenn School Corporation before taking a job in his hometown last fall, he said.

Snyder selected “The Wizard of Oz” – a show he had directed once before while at Goshen – as his debut production in La Porte because the musical allowed him to lead a huge cast, he said. The show includes students from the fourth grade and up, many of who have never participated in a production with this large of a scale, Snyder said.

“The kids have learned how to conduct themselves in shows, all the dos and don’ts,” Snyder said. “They’ve learned how much work goes into a show of this magnitude.”

The cast has rehearsed the show since May, with practices ramping up after the end of the school year earlier this month, the director said. Many parents and friends have stepped up to help Snyder with the production, helping out while the La Porte man recovered from an injury several weeks ago, he said.

Despite the challenges, Snyder is excited to see the progress the students have made over the past several weeks – progress he hopes the La Porte community will come out to witness this weekend, he said.

“Parents and community members will be amazed at what these students can accomplish when given the opportunity – and what happens when they put their phones down for a few hours,” Snyder said. 

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