Hi everyone! My name is Sarah Smithton and I’ve attended three USPA camps in the past. In 06 I took Spectrum Theatre (one of the original members!) and Musical Theatre Session 1, and then in 07 I was in the Musical Theatre Conservatory, all at UCLA. I recently (well, in February) got cast as Dorothy in the Mountain Play’s production of Wizard of Oz and I felt like sharing the process of this show with all of you.
Wizard of Oz is the first musical I’ve done in a while, since 2004 I believe. (eek!) At my high school, we only do straight plays. I think it’s better this way because that way, a lot more people can feel like they can take drama (not everyone is comfortable with singing) which is good because then you get a lot of people into a program who feel comfortable with what they are doing. Being in this program has enabled me to concentrate more on my acting, but being a die-hard musical theatre fan, I need to be doing that as well.
I was feeling kind of sad for a while because I haven’t done much theatre outside of school, that is, until I heard that the Mountain Play this year was Wizard of Oz and that you had to be a junior in high school and up to audition for Dorothy. The Mountain Play is an association here in Mill Valley, CA that puts on a production every May-June in a giant amphitheatre (over 4,000 seats) on top of Mt. Tamalpais. It’s a big deal over here in Marin. On the day of a performance, which is usually a Sunday/sometimes Saturday, thousands of people (mainly families) pack lunches and blankets, slather on sunscreen, and either hike, drive, or take the bus up to Mt. Tam and make a day out of it. The seating is first-come-first-serve, so some people try to get up there as early as 7:30 even though the actual shows start at 1 pm. The cast gets to the theatre at about 8:30, and by 9 we start warm-ups/running through the musical numbers, giving the audience members who are there that early a little preview of what they’re about to see. It’s a great way to spend the day. Sure it gets hot and dusty, but it’s worth it to see a great show and spend a day outside. (If you live in Marin/the Bay Area and want more details, be sure to click on their Mountain Play website link above.)
I’ve done two other Mountain Plays before: Oliver (where I played one of the boys – I cut my hair) and Annie (where I was Annie), so doing this show is like coming back to a familiar place for me. The director, Jim Dunn, is great to work with. He really understands shows, and he’s such an honor to work with. Everyone else on the crew is like family to me, as is the cast. My fellow principles and I really get along, and we really have a tight ensemble. The munchkins (all local kids aged 10-14) are doing great jobs as well.
I started this rehearsal process later than everyone else because of a conflict with my theatre programs trip to London (which was amazing), but because of this I’ve felt a little behind. It’s not a good feeling, especially when I’m in every scene except for two! This show is a lot more dialogue then it is singing, and it’s a lot of complicated dialogue. So far I’m off book on all the songs, act one, and most of act two, the stuff we’ve blocked anyway – we finish blocking act two this Friday. On Saturday, we go up the mountain again to (hopefully) go through all of act one, and I get to meet the equity (yes, equity) dog playing Toto so I can start working with him. The only downside to this is I’m getting there late due to the SATs…ugh
I’ll write more tomorrow, I’ve got to finish up my homework so I won’t have so much to do after rehearsal.