Fallsburg Wizard of Oz makes audience gasp

By Amanda Loviza

FALLSBURG — A “delightful” production of The Wizard of Oz by the Fallsburg Junior/Senior High School Drama Club drew rave reviews after its March 24-25 run.
Larry Schafman said he saw his first high school production of the show when he was 6 years old, and almost 70 years later, he was enthralled all over again. Mr. Schafman praised the professionalism of the entire ensemble, from set design and choreography to acting and music.
“Every singing voice was clear and pleasing to the ear—not just one or two of the lead roles, but every single actor on the stage that evening,” Mr. Schafman wrote in his review.

Dorothy, played by Grace Strauss, greets the Tin Man, played by Brendan Hooks, and the Scarecrow, played by Jasmine Johnson, during Fallsburg Junior/Senior High School’s recent production of The Wizard of Oz. PHOTO SUBMITTED

The play starred Grace Strauss, Isabel Morales, Olav Peterson Langeland, Jasmine Johnson, Brendan Hooks, Mekayla Perneszi, Roberto Matamoros, Camron Batres, Adem Crnovrsanin and Kailan Odell Schreier. The backstage crew included Stage Director Tobi Magnetico, Sound Designer and Technical Director Jim Schmidt, Stage Manager Sarah Ungerleider, Makeup Designer Pam Garritt, Music Director Liz Toledo, costume designers Janet Kaplan and Pam House, assistant stage managers Rebecca Budrock and Jaclyn Hatt, and Lighting Designer Amanni Sitz.

Fallsburg high school teacher Don Thomas poses with the Wizard of Oz head he made using the Hurleyville Maker’s Lab body scanner and laser cutter for student Adem Crnovrsanin for the school production of The Wizard of Oz. PHOTO SUBMITTED

One animatronic feature of the play brought gasps from the audience — and it was made right on Main Street in Hurelyville. As the wizard, Adem Crnovrsanin operated a gigantic head with glowing red eyes and a long white beard. Fallsburg science teacher Don Thomas worked with Mark McNamara, the director of the Hurleyville Maker’s Lab, to design the prop. Mr. Thomas scanned Mr. Crnovrsanin’s own head with the maker’s lab’s body scanner, cut layers of cardboard with the lab’s laser cutter and assembled the pieces. The process of designing and assembling took about 20 hours total, but Mr. Thomas said it was well worth it to witness the audience’s gasps.
“The audience definitely had the reaction we were going for,” Mr. Thomas said.
The lighting crew did a great job, and the overall impression was a truly scary wizard, Mr. Thomas said. It was a great experience to work at the maker’s lab, and Mr. Thomas said he expects many more school projects to be completed there in the future.
It was clear how much love and devotion went into the entire production of The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Schafman said.
“Rarely does a play or musical come together so perfectly to transfix and entertain an audience for a couple of magical hours,” Mr. Schafman wrote, thanking the drama club for a “fabulous guided tour over the rainbow. We are never too young or too old to enjoy the journey to the Land of Oz.”