Ease on down to Dupont Middle School for ‘The Wiz’

3/9/2017 | Payton North

Category: March

Dorothy (Grace Lonczak) meets the Scarecrow (Julia Hall) in "The Wiz."
Reminder Publications photo by Chris Maza

Drama Club students at Dupont Middle School are trying their hands, or should we say voices, in the school's upcoming musical, “The Wiz,” in honor of “Music in Our Schools” month.

“The Wiz” is an adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz,” featuring a progressive sound track and upbeat format, as well as 32 Dupont Drama Club students, ranging from ages 11 to 14.  While some are actors in the musical, others are focusing on behind-the-scenes work, filling the roles of stage crew.  

Although Dupont produces a musical annually, co-directors Christina Barbieri, Dupont's seventh-grade English teacher, and Cara Canedi, Dupont's music instructor, haven't had any returning students from previous school plays. This is potentially due to how time-consuming taking part in the musical is for students, they opined.

Casting for “The Wiz” took place in October, and the students have rehearsed each week since.

Barbieri said, “Of the 32, there weren't any kids who were in the play last year.”  

Canedi added, “I think a few years down the road once we start building a base of students that will come back year after year, the learning time will get faster.”  

As Black History Month came to a close in February, Canedi suggests that the musical was chosen with diversity in mind.

“‘The Wiz’ is a much more modernized version of ‘The Wizard of Oz;’ the music is completely different, it's very upbeat, funky, jazzy, gospel, soulful,” she said. “It's a very unique interpretation of the primary story, The Wizard of Oz. We thought with our student population being such a diverse population that this musical would fit well with the kids that we're working with.”

In the past, Dupont's musicals have been carried out to a pre-recorded soundtrack. This year, however, the children are working with a live orchestra.

“This is the first musical that's going to feature live, adult, pit orchestra music; it's a unique feature.  Previously its been done to a recorded track.  This time, the students are going to get to meet the musicians that are going to play the music score for them, which has let us have a lot of freedom in our directing style,” Barbieri said.

The National Association for Music Education has been recognizing March as Music in Our Schools month since it was created in 1985.  The purpose of the month is to encourage and educate students, faculty, and the community on the importance of quality music programs for students.

Dupont Middle School and its drama club is welcoming the community to attend their showcase of “The Wiz” on March 23 and “March 24,” both at 6:30 p.m. The musical will be presented at the school’s auditorium, and costs $10 for adults and $5 for students. For more information or to reserve tickets, email Canedi at ccanedi@cpsge.org or Barbieri at cbarbieri@cpsge.org.

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