Treasure Mountain School presents ‘The Wizard of Oz’
Treasure Mountain International School drama students will take audiences over the rainbow when they present "The Wizard of Oz" this week.
Drama teacher Zac Zumbrunnen said he chose the play because of its popularity.
"A lot of these junior high school kids, ages 14 and 15, haven’t had a lot of exposure to theatre and we wanted to do something fun," Zumbrunnen said during an interview with The Park Record. "Last year we did ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and the year before we did ‘Grease.’
"We wanted to find another work that was more well known, because every time we try something that isn’t well known, this age group loses interest," he said. "That’s something we don’t want to happen. We would like to see them develop an interest in theatre and then, maybe, pursue it in high school."
"Wizard of Oz" seemed perfect because it was so well known and everyone is familiar with the songs, Zumbrunnen said.
"When I started telling the kids about it last year, they all got so excited," he said. "We conducted auditions last December, just before the holiday break and started right away when we got back to school in January."
There are 50 students involved in the performance, Zumbrunnen said.
"It’s a pretty big production," he said. "Not only do we have students who are the actors, but when you come into the auditorium, you immediately notice sets are built by the students. They build and they come up with the ideas. They do all the painting."
Students also run the microphones and the lighting, and they do all the set changes backstage, Zumbrunnen said.
"What’s so rewarding about teaching junior high-school theatre and doing these shows is we get to watch these students develop talents they didn’t realize they had," he said. "We teach them the basics of theatre which is more than just standing there and reciting lines or singing songs.
"We teach them that they need to think why their character is at a certain point on stage," he said. "We teach them to become critical thinkers and help them develop their characters. I like seeing them reach that ‘Aha moment’ and then watch them grow from there."
Zumbrunnen said there are some unique challenges that come with being a junior high school drama teacher.
"Scheduling is a difficult thing at this age," he said. "Kids have so much going on more than I can remember doing when I was their age. I do work with their schedules so they will be able to do what they can."
Another challenge is helping the students focus on the work that needs to be done.
"They’re very energetic and that’s great because they’re excited and want to do well," Zumbrunnen said with a laugh. "The other side of that is they’re energetic and enjoying the social aspect of the project maybe a little too much."
In every group there are those who have a hard time opening up, he said.
"Sometimes the kids guard themselves a little bit," Zumbrunnen said. "They don’t like having everyone see how involved they are in a project, unless someone else is just as enthusiastic. It’s exciting to see them get past that and realize the potential and talent they have."
Treasure Mountain International School will present "The Wizard of Oz" in the TMIS Forum, 2530 Kearns Blvd., Thursday through Saturday, March 10-12, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 per person, $10 per family and $2 for students with IDs.