High school's 'Wizard of Oz' takes stage

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— Although the debut night of Steamboat Springs High School's production of "The Wizard of Oz" has passed, people still can catch performances today and Saturday.

At a Monday evening Steamboat Springs School Board meeting, Beth Ann Ludwig and Loren Cogswell demonstrated a clip from this weekend's production to entice members of the board and others to come and see the show.

Cogswell, who is the Wizard of Oz, acted a segment of the play, while Ludwig, the Wicked Witch of the West, sneered at the crowd with a green face showing her distaste for Dorothy.

Board members and others who attended the meeting clapped at the small performances and shivered with the chill of the witch's snicker.

Director Stuart Handloff said the high school hosts a musical production every fall and a drama production every spring.

"I have more conflicts in the springs with girl sports and it's easier to get kids in the fall," Handloff said.

Handloff said many of his students knew about "The Wizard of Oz" fall production before school ended last spring.

However, the group didn't start music rehearsals until early September, followed by lines and on-stage movements.

Handloff said he wants the students to understand the spirit and energy behind the music what forces the energy of words into a song.

Handloff said this production couldn't be more fitting during a time when America needs a classical and mythical story.

"It's really comforting for people. It's a real feel-good community kind of show," Handloff said.

Students have the opportunities to bring many of their own realities to stage for this performance because of the simple yet complex themes.

The story of "The Wizard of Oz" looks at overcoming evil, achieving success and how important home and family are.

Handloff said these timeless themes have become important to the world and to the students acting these ideas.

Although most of America is familiar with the movie "The Wizard of Oz," Handloff has discouraged his students from watching the movie in order for them to create their own rendition of the story.

Having the opportunity to learn theater on every level is what Handloff hopes the students get from this or any production.

Many of the actors in "The Wizard of Oz" don't have a future interest in acting and many have not taken a drama class from Handloff. However, others see acting much differently.

"A lot of personalities go along with our parts. When I say I'm playing the Wicked Witch people say that fits me perfectly," Ludwig said. "It's so fulfilling to do something you love when people have fun watching it."

Ludwig said it's difficult for her to be the Wicked Witch of the West because she has to be mean all the time.

Although she tries to be as evil as possible, she said sometimes it makes her laugh.

"You don't have a choice in whether you act or not," Cogswell said. "If you're an actor, you're drawn to it in any form."

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