If the hustle of the holidays is getting you down, take a break this weekend and visit the magical Land of Oz. All you have to do is travel to Eldersburg, where Liberty High School is staging "The Wizard of Oz."
"The story is the same as in the movie, except the play is pure fantasy -- there's no moral ending or message," said Bill Lizor, a Liberty junior who is making his directorial debut.
"You can sit back and have fun for two hours. That's what we'd like you to do."
In Liberty's production, Dorothy is still an innocent dreamer, the Scarecrow can't think, the Tin Man has no heart and the Cowardly Lion is still cowardly. Oh, and Glinda, the good witch, is now the Sorceress of the North, so you don't want to tick her off because she does have a temper.
You also have to imagine the yellow brick road. There's no Toto or flying monkeys, but there are jitterbugs and a skeleton, Tibia, who is the Wicked Witch's servant. And there's lots of music.
"There's some new songs, some new lyrics to old songs and some little twists that aren't in the movie," Lizor said.
Student directs teachers
Five Liberty teachers will be part of the production. Three of them play the parts of major characters -- Kathy Schnorr plays the Sorceress of the North, Cathy James plays the Wicked Witch of the West, and Mike Flemming plays the Cowardly Lion. Laurette O'Keefe will play a witch, and Christopher Koper will portray Tibia.
"That's an interesting situation for me, because you have to know where to draw the line," Lizor said. "You can't treat teachers and students the same way."
Students and teachers were encouraged to develop their characters beyond their movie counterparts, and many have.
"The cast has done a wonderful job of putting a lot of themselves into the characters," Lizor said. "We tried to give them some freedom with the characters."
Flemming had a particular interest in playing the Cowardly Lion. He said he tried out for the part because "I'm also a coach, and I didn't want my daughter thinking she has a one-dimensional dad -- she's 28 weeks old."
So, in addition to coaching wrestling, Flemming is jumping around on the auditorium stage, trying unsuccessfully to scare Dorothy, the Scarecrow and Tin Man.
Dorothy, played by Andrea DiPietro, is even more of a dreamer than in the movie. DiPietro said he studied the script to try to find the real Dorothy.
"She seems more childish, more imaginative, than in the movie," DiPietro said, decked out in a checkered jumper and pigtails. "She's not afraid to speak her mind."
The Wizard still "scares the heebie-jeebies out of everybody but eventually grants them their wishes," said Jeremy Hagy, a freshman actor who remembers crying the first time he saw the (( movie.
"I love the movie," he said. "I tried out for any part and got picked for Oz. I have a deep voice, so I can scare people with my deep and trembling voice."
Rounding out the main characters are Katie Barth as the Scarecrow and Josh Jones as the Tin Man. Lynn Sonnenleiter plays Aunt Em, James Anastasion is Uncle Henry, and J. D. Jordan is Joe, the farmhand.
There's also a group of Munchkins, the Lollypop Guild, the Lullabuy Guild and the Gloria Girls, along with an ensemble of singers. An 18-member orchestra provides the music.
"The Wizard of Oz" will be presented at 7: 30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the school, 5855 Bartholow Road, Eldersburg. Tickets are $3 in advance, available at the school, and $4 at the door. Information: 795-8102.
Pub Date: 12/03/96