Even a New York Times theater critic would have been impressed. The J. Taylor Finley Middle School drama club reached new heights of enjoyable entertainment with last weekend’s production of Oz.
The musical was based on L. Frank Baum’s legendary story, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” The actors, costumes, music, props, lighting and sound helped the Finley drama club bring down the house last Friday and Saturday nights.
Catherine McCooey was sensational playing the part of Dorothy. Charlotte Simon was enchanting as Toto. Chloe Wheeler dazzled the crowd as Glinda the Good Witch and Sarah Biernacki scared more than a few in the audience as the Wicked Witch.
Ally Kustera, Lauren Holly, Hannah Roberts, Katherine Eichenberger, Chloe Buffone, Rebecca Hoffman, Mia Brown, Hannah Kaufman, Maria Verfenstein, Dianna Harris Leda Roldan, Jackson Kanzer, Harrison McKenna, Ryan Aguirre, Shannon Milner, Jillian Fehrenbacher, Joey Manaker, Sophia Matheus, Andrea Delcid-Ayala and Christina Drummings also appeared on stage in parts large and small. They all gave the show everything they had.
Finley teacher Gina Marie Trigian-Molvaut served as the production’s director, choreographer and stage manager. Victoria Garbarino was the director of music and Matt Harris oversaw technical aspects of the production. Ms. Trigian-Molvaut also handled the stage and the ensemble costumes along with Mr. Harris and Ms. Sarah Trigian, respectively. Andy Ulloa was the junior stage manager.
“I think I did really well for my first time with lines,” Ms. McCooey said. “It was an amazing experience and I definitely plan to continue acting. Thank you to Madame Molvaut, Ms. Garbarino and everyone else for this fantastic opportunity.”
The top notch crew included Jack Alba (lighting), Adora Colay (props and costume master), Carrie Kilgour (spots), Christina Koll (spots), James Kretschmer (sound), Sam Levine (lighting), Drew Spina (stagehand) and Eliza Walther (stagehand).
“Opening night was a success,” said Ms. Wheeler, a veteran metropolitan area stage presence. “I was inspired by Glinda in The Wiz so I drew from that for my character in this show and I sing the song, ‘Believe in Yourself,’ also from The Wiz. Congratulations to the cast! Everyone has worked so hard on this production, from director Mme. Molvaut to musical director Ms. Garbarino to the cast and stage crew.”
Capacity crowds packed the Finley auditorium for each of the performances. The fun show featured a cyclone dance ensemble as well as a large group of munchkins/citizens of the Land of Oz.
“I was amazed by the way the whole cast truly transformed into each character and made Mme. Moulvaut’s vision come to life,” said Sarah Biernacki. “This was my first chance to play a truly evil character and it was a fun experience.”
The cast included many veterans of previous Finley drama club productions and Woodhull School shows, but there were also newcomers who fell in love with the stage for the first time.
“I had a great time doing the show,” Ms. Buffone said. “I loved playing the Tin Woodsman. Mme. Molvaut and Ms. Gabarino were fantastic. I think everyone loved it!”
The name of next year’s Finley drama club production won’t be announced until the fall, but after last weekend’s show, the bar has been set very high.