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Briarcliff Middle School Thespians Perform Wizard Of Oz

Briarcliff Middle School students rehearse for “The Wizard of Oz Young Performers’ Edition.”
Briarcliff Middle School students rehearse for “The Wizard of Oz Young Performers’ Edition.” Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District
Briarcliff Middle School students rehearse for “The Wizard of Oz Young Performers’ Edition.”
Briarcliff Middle School students rehearse for “The Wizard of Oz Young Performers’ Edition.” Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. -- Briarcliff Middle School will present “The Wizard of Oz Young Performers’ Edition” on Friday and Saturday, at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.

The play is presented under the direction of renowned New York actor and theater director Paul Kite, with musical direction by Regina Leon, choreography by Davyd Suber, technical direction by Jim Britt and production by Ian Driver.

The logistical challenges presented by the very large middle school cast – nearly 50 actors in addition to several crew members – gave everyone the opportunity to think outside of the box, school officials said. The production will use found object-style sets, props and costumes, evoking an organic and grassroots feel.

“Imagine a group of friends and neighbors coming together to tell a story,” said Kite. “That’s the feeling we are going for.”

This year, Leon said he added an extra dimension to the music for the show. Rather than have the CD accompaniment, which has been the tradition for the middle school musical, the actors will sing to live music.

“I want the BMS singers to get used to performing with live music, as this is terrific training for them, and this is (how it’s done) at the high school,” said Leon.

The music is arranged in part by Briarcliff High School senior Erza Gans and faculty member Chris Melito, and performed by Briarcliff High School students Sophie Underwood (oboe); Kevin Qian (clarinet and saxophone); Dustin Qian (flute); and Jack McGranahan (drums); with Briarcliff resident and frequent guest of the Briarcliff theater program Connie Prenner at the piano.

One of the signature aspects of the Briarcliff theater program is the mentoring of the younger students by the older performers, said school officials. The high school students volunteering their time and talents to create the orchestra pit, in addition to the several high school theater program mentors involved, is a shining example of the Briarcliff theater community helping to shepherd the next generation of the program.

Tickets for the performance are available at showtix4u.com now through Friday at 12 p.m. for $12.50.

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