In the classic story “The Wizard of Oz,” our hero Dorothy stumbles upon a living scarecrow hanging in a random field along the yellow brick road. No explanation was ever given, in that story or others in the series written after it, as to how he got up there. Until now, courtesy of LBCC’s theater group!
Last Thursday, the magic of Oz came to LBCC as children from three local elementary schools flocked into the Russell Tripp Center to see this year’s Annual Children’s Play. The play this year was “A Scarecrow in Oz.” An original production written by members of the LBCC drama club and directed by theater faculty Dan Stone, it tells the origin story of the beloved brainless scarecrow.
Once everyone was seated, event coordinator Michael Winder greeted the crowd and explained the rules of the theater through jokes, such as warning them to not leave with the wrong group lest they mistakenly end up with the wrong family, who’ll make them dress up in ridiculous pirate outfits. Yes, that makes exactly as much sense in context. He also asked how many of them had read the book beforehand; about two-thirds raised their hands.
After Winder was done came the play itself. Most of the cast functioned as a sort of Greek choir that moved parts of the set around, as well as a narrator who walked around on stage singing a beautiful song about what was going on in the plot.
The plot opens with a pair of Munchkins, the witch-terrorized group from the original story. The Munchkins were cursed after an attempted revolution against the Wicked Witch of the East, and were left unable to have children. The pair of Munchkins in question, Mayzey (played by Laural Tannehill) and Cornelius (Joseph Johnson), are a married couple working on a corn farm who very much wish to have a child.
Lacking other options, the two of them decide to leave Munchkin-land to seek out another witch who is rumored to possess a magic capable of creating life. The witch, named Mombi, lives north of the East Witch’s territory, through the enchanted poppy fields and a cursed forest. After a brief yet harrowing journey, they reach Mombi’s abandoned castle and successfully make a bargain for her magic: she gives them an enchanted silvery paint, which they can use to create the child they desire, but they must only use it once!
Returning home, they start gathering up some old clothes, a burlap sack, and a lot of straw. They put all of these together in the shape of a person, and painted a face on it. That’s when the real fun started.
The cast delivered their lines like a preschool teacher reading a storybook to their class, in the best way possible. Lines were spoken in an engaging manner that kept the audience’s attention throughout. The children also got a lot of laughs out of many choice scenes. They really enjoyed all the scenes with the scarecrow, named Cornwall by his parents, such as him learning to walk, learning about farming, and having a birthday party. This was thanks in no small part to the perfectly conveyed sense of child-like innocence his actor, Drew May, brought to the role.
As for Mombi, she was easily a crowd favorite with her high-pitched, over the top delivery and her tendency to go off on long, rambling tangents. It won’t surprise anyone that she returns later in the play, and the way they decided to have her return to the stage made all the children in the audience completely lose it!
All in all, if you have any children and can spare a couple hours this Saturday, this play would be a great way to spend your time. The last showing will be at 2 p.m., and the ticket price is $8 for adults, $6 for the children. Tickets are available for pre-ordering now at linnbenton.edu/tickets.
Story by Bowen Orcutt