The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

Students Brought “The Wizard of Oz” to Life with Captivating Technical Production

Woodbridge High’s spring musical audiences were transported to the magical land of Oz thanks to the theater department’s technical crew

Woodbridge High’s theater department captivated audiences with an enchanting musical of the timeless classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” during three spectacular performances on Feb. 29, March 1 and March 2 in the performing-arts center (PAC). 

The musical, which combined originality and skill, showcased the department’s expertise in their staging, rigging, special effects and other areas in addition to the performers’ acting prowess.  

“The Wizard of Oz” technical crew’s behind-the-scenes insights brought to light the meticulous preparation and coordination needed to make the musical come to life, ushering several firsts for the theater department. One of the most exciting was the usage of flying and rigging. 

“We [hired] a company to fly performers in the air. Our students [got] a lot of knowledge about flying and stunt work,” drama department head and the musical’s producer and director Cassandra Gaona said.

Story continues below advertisement

Rigging refers to the equipment and set of mechanisms that is utilized, usually above the stage, to control and manipulate different aspects in a theatrical show. During a performance, this system is essential for creating dynamic and eye-catching effects like flying performers, moving scenery and shifting stage elements. 

“How I set up for flying is there’s a bunch of counterweights on rails. Then it just counterbalances the amount of weight that we’re trying to fly out. So if it’s 100 pounds, you put something that’s equivalent to 100 pounds so we can fly in and out,” junior and rigging and scenery lead Sean Mangilit said.

In addition to flying, the theater department worked with Makerspace, a course that emphasizes the connections between science and art via rigorous hands-on projects and other engineering principles. Makerspace created most of the production’s special effects.

“[The musical was] pretty tech heavy…we [used] a LED floor [for the yellow brick road]…[that] Makerspace [made] for us,” senior and assistant stage manager Gabrielle Rodriguez said. 

Dylan Moore, a junior who works as the scenery lead and in the special effects department believes special effects make the show recognizable for the audience members.

“Special props [were used] to make the show more accurate towards the musical production and [reflect] what was seen in the movies. [These were] special effects that are done with animation,” Moore said.

With a show so tech heavy, safety precautions are put into place and improvisations are made to ensure the magical aspect of the scenery and special effects. For example, in the original movie’s production, the Wicked Witch of the West bursts into flames, which would be a fire hazard in the PAC. Instead, colored smoke is used to give the feel of fire.

“There are safety measures for [rigging],” Mangilit said. “There’s a giant red safety lock. And then you pull that to pull down the rope. And then there’s also…spikes if you want to just know where you’re putting it on.”

With a huge cast and crew, communication is very necessary to get specific parts of the production in order. Rodriguez and her fellow stage managers utilized communication devices called headset comms to let leads know when their cues are and directly tell the ensemble crew when to run set pieces on stage.

With such an iconic plot and soundtrack, the production incorporated a mixture of the old and new with the traditional style songs and hip-hop style renditions.

“We [were] just trying to not create the same ‘The Wizard of Oz’ that everyone’s used to. And something special, something different. You [could] see a lot of the elements that you traditionally see, but with the twists to it,” instrumental music teacher and the musical’s technical director Brad Harris said. 

Gaona and Harris’ vision of the production was one that was colorful and cheerful, so it would be enjoyable for people of all ages. 

“Dorothy’s on the quest for something that represents home, and it needs to be welcoming and fun to her. She wouldn’t want to stay in Oz if it wasn’t welcoming and fun. So we [needed] to make it an adventure,” Gaona said. 

Not only was “The Wizard of Oz” a spectacle for students and staff at Woodbridge High, but it was open for the whole community to come and see, with 80 local Girl Scouts coming to see the show on Friday’s performance and 250 elementary students coming on the showcase assembly day. 

In the weeks approaching the opening night of “The Wizard of Oz,” Harris gave his insights on the theater crew’s development and considered the difficulties they had to overcome as a team.  

“I’m really pleased with how they [started] to work together as a team and [realized] that there [was] a deadline and [started] to push through that…they [were] just making mistakes and fixing them and learning from different kinds of things that they [were] putting together,” Harris said.

The tech crew grew a bond while working alongside each other in preparation for the musical, sharing many moments with each other in the PAC while overcoming obstacles.

“You get to be really close with everybody because you’re in the theater for like five hours every day and you’re working together all the time that you all kind of just become this one big family,” Rodriguez said.

Moore underlined how important it is to keep a positive attitude and communicate well despite the heavy workload.

“A lot of people struggle with that because obviously it’s a lot of work. But I think a lot of people find a good way of communicating well and having a good attitude,” Moore said. “And that’s what helps to stay positive and be a good team member.”

Seeing how the audience responded to the production—which combined the technical and acting elements of the performance—was, in Rodriguez’s opinion, the most fulfilling part of working on the play. 

“Seeing people so fascinated and so just in awe…of the work,” Rodriguez said, “It just makes it feel worth it. We all work together to create something that helps tell the story and helps hold it along.”

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Alexis Levin
Alexis Levin, Social Media Manager
Hey Warriors! I am incredibly excited to be Social Media Director this year! My goal is to boost the Golden Arrow’s Instagram account engagement and alert the Woodbridge community about the newspaper’s articles and events (in an aesthetically pleasing fashion). I am also a staff writer this year, as I have always been interested in writing and learning about the world around me. When I’m not posting on Instagram or writing articles for the Golden Arrow, you can find me baking, studying, hanging out with my friends/family/cats, playing guitar, at the gym, and thrifting.