“Wizard of Oz”

wizard-of-ozAfter my success at directing “Fiddler on the Roof,” I decided to direct another play the next year. I chose “Wizard of Oz,” since I enjoyed doing special effects the previous year. The school stage was under construction, so the headmaster told me that I could choose any stage I wanted, since the school was going to use this play for promotional purposes. I was basically given unlimited funds.

I envisioned a spectacular performance. However, since I only rented the professional stage for one week, so many things went awry. First I was suffering from horrible cramps and was doubled over on the floor the entire week. Plus, I had the pressure to top the performance from the previous year, which, as you know, was nearly impossible to do.

I kept ordering that the bales of straw be sent to the theater, and the theater guy kept sending them back, saying that they were not fireproof. I kept telling the guy that I would fireproof them at the theater, not at the school. I had to flirt with the maintenance guys to get them to do what I wanted, since there was so much work to be done.

The beautiful flowers that the art teacher had made for Munchkinland were droopy and miserable-looking after being fireproofed, and we had no time to make more, since this was the night before the first performance. I was heartbroken, because the art tewizard-of-oz-2acher was such an outstanding props maker. Her stuff was always a work of art. That was one talented woman, if I ever knew one.

I had no idea how I was going to change the canvas backdrops during the play, since my swinging on the rope with my skinny body didn’t even budge the thing. I frantically looked around for a man… any man. The husband of a fellow teacher actually volunteered on the night of the first performance. (My fiance, now husband, was back in the States at the time.)

When the curtain went up on opening night, the lights didn’t come on. Black. Nothing. The actors froze. The principal (and headmaster) of the school sat beside me, and I tried not to freak out. I calmly walked to the back of the auditorium to talk to my lights guy (a former student), who just shrugged at me. We finally figured out that the whole thing had been unplugged. (I knew who did it, too!)

The smoke machine stopped working halfway through the show, so I told the wicked witch to jump down the trap door without waiting for the smoke. The flashing lights coverewizard-of-oz-3d up the absence of smoke, so that actually looked okay.

By the time the play was over, I made a mental note to myself that I would never direct a play again. The whole week was somewhat nightmarish, although the kids were sweet. As always, my actors and actresses did well. Bummer, because I always wanted to do “Camelot.” Well, you never know…

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