Theater group to debut production of The Wizard of Oz

By Morgan Banville | Apr 15, 2018
Photo by: Morgan Banville Students at a recent rehearsal.

We're not in Kansas anymore, as a group of Dartmouth performers are set to open their musical rendition of The Wizard of Oz in May.

The show is being put on by Take a Bow, a singing group for second through eighth graders in the Dartmouth area. It’s run by Marianne Oien – also co-director of the upcoming show – and choreographer Michele Dreher.

Oien is a music teacher with 38 years of experience – 20 of those years spent in Dartmouth schools. She started Take a Bow after her retirement.

“I’ve put on something no matter where I was teaching,” said Oien.

Take a Bow was Oien’s first introduction to major shows.

“I’ve never put on a full-scale production until the past three years,” said Oien. “Now, our productions are held at Dartmouth High School. We hire professional lighting and sound. It’s a learning experience.”

While working in Dartmouth schools, Oien made a mark on her students. Christina Sobran, who does poster design for the group, noted her daughter Elena Glinda was upset when Oien retired after her first-grade year because her class was so much fun.

“Mrs. Dreher and Mrs. Oien really love what they do, and it shows,” said Sobran. “They inspire the cast to work really hard, for months on end, and to have a great time doing it. They make close friends, they work as a team to put on a performance, and they all support each other.”

The group also entertains senior citizens at assisted living facilities, which gives an appreciative audience and a deeper understanding of people who might not get the opportunity to sing and dance that often, Sobran added.

“That’s great training for life, as far as I’m concerned,” said Sobran.

The first musical the company put on was Annie, and then the students chose The Sound of Music for its second musical.

The company has had anywhere from 25-30 students, and it gives them a valuable opportunity to participate in a full-fledged musical, Oien noted.

“We really rely on the parents,” said Oien. “We have a really great support system in our parents. Every year we look at the cast and type of kids we have and their abilities. We look to see if there is anyone that really sticks out or who we can build a production around.”

The Wizard of Oz includes many different roles, and students are familiar enough with the story even though they may have not seen the movie.

“We had about four or five older students that we wanted to give major roles to,” Oien said. “This is the type of production that had just that because most of the responsibility was on them.”

The Wizard of Oz was one of the very first shows Oien coordinated at the George H. Potter Elementary School while she was teaching in Dartmouth.

“I grew up with a very musical family,” Oien said. “My parents really encouraged the arts and they exposed us to a lot of theater and concerts.”

She participated in all of the major musicals when she was in high school, and also took piano lessons and played the clarinet.

“It’s part of my life, I guess. I loved being in the productions and singing,” said Oien.

Fourth grader Elena Sobran (Glinda) agreed.

“It’s a very down-to-earth play even though she [Dorothy] falls from the sky,” said Elena. “Glinda is what I love about The Wizard of Oz play. She’s a good character.”

The show will be held at Dartmouth High on May 11 at 7 p.m. and May 12 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Tickets are $12 and may be purchased at the door or ahead of time by calling (508) 725-4206 or (508) 858-1146, or emailing TAKEaBOWsouthcoast@gmail.com

Students practice one of the songs in The Wizard of Oz at a recent rehearsal. (Photo by: Morgan Banville)
Marianne Oien and Michele Dreher. (Photo by: Morgan Banville)
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