An Independent Day School for Grades 6-12

Finding Our Way Home: The Everlasting Story of "The Wizard of Oz" at Crystal

MS English teacher Tom Diggs gave an inspiring dramaturgical presentation for The Wizard of Oz’s cast and crew. Mr. Diggs showed students how understanding the historical context, authorial intent, and intellectual themes becomes a tool for unlocking creativity and deepening one’s personal connection to the show in the video above.

Michelle Berti, MS drama teacher and director of The Wizard of Oz, explains the background on selecting The Wizard of Oz for this year’s Middle School spring musical.

Ms. Berti writes, “Trying to decide how to approach picking a musical for the Middle School to work on this year as we work our way through the pandemic and social distancing was a challenge. How in the world are we going to make the unique circumstances we are in feel like our new normal? We started to think about musicals that have been written for both stage and screen and about stories that represent a time of change and growth. This led us to the story of The Wizard of Oz. This musical felt perfect for many reasons. First, it is a movie musical which means it was written to work on the big screen and was successfully translated into a stage musical. Secondly, it revolves around the story of a child trying to find her way through a new world, something we are all doing right now. Thirdly, it is a story that is timeless and is easily adaptable. Much like the Wiz, we are taking Dorothy’s story and modernizing it by putting her in 2021. She is one of our Middle School students. She must wear a mask. She is struggling to see the beauty in her world. She is frustrated and runs away only to find that she is the only one who can bring herself back home. We are so pleased with how our Middle School students are taking on this story and bringing it to the present. Their ability to think deeply and maturely about the themes of this story is truly inspiring. We couldn't be prouder of them.”
Understanding how the character was written in the past and connecting it to current events fuels the passion and commitment for the Crystal actors today. Vas T ‘25, Assistant Director to Ms. Berti, answers Mr. Digg’s questions about how to apply dramaturgical work to the production: “We can use this information to bring out passion in the acting. Although we are trying to contemporize the movie by adding a modern feel to make it our own, we encourage actors, particularly the leads, to remember what was happening at the musical's inception. It’s always good to remember where Dorothy came from (and where she’s going) and the Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow’s painful backgrounds. We appreciated Mr. Diggs’s presentation because it brought a new perspective, new passion, and new game plan to the musical.”
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