No staff member took on the supplemental assignment of play director at Centre High School for the 2016-17 school year, so that meant no play. However, Raeanne Bryant could not imagine not being part of a play production her senior year.
At the beginning of the year, Raeanne approached English teacher Jennifer Montgomery, a veteran director, about the possibility of putting on a play.
Montgomery and the new English teacher, Stephanie Allen, agreed to sponsor the play but only if Raeanne would be the director. After some hesitation, she agreed.
“I had mixed emotions about it,” she said. “I was excited to have a play but was nervous because it was a lot to take on. I was taking college classes in addition to my regular schedule.”
She already had some leadership experience as president of the Centre FFA chapter. She also had been in drama the past three years, so she had the confidence that she could successfully direct a small cast.
“I got to pick out the play and the cast,” she said.
She chose “Oz,” by Don Zolidis, a one-act play about a teenage girl, Beth, who has recently lost her sister in a tragic accident. Beth is led by The Guide on an adventure in the movie “The Wizard of Oz.”
In a comical take on the tradition story, Beth learns how to move forward with her life when she meets Lion, Tin Man, Scarecrow, the Wizard, and the Wicked Witch of the West.
“When Raeanne brought the script to me for approval, I was impressed that she found a manageable play that not only has hilarious one-liners and tongue-in-cheek humor, but also contains a meaningful message about life,” Montgomery said.
The cast began practicing at the end of January. Raeanne helps them learn their lines and shows them where to go and how to act. She learned scheduling, set designing, costuming, and time management.
“I learned I have trouble with delegating things to other people,” she said.
She admits that some days are really stressful, especially the rush of last-minute set construction.
Stage director Hannah Peterson and the whole cast help her.
“It’s definitely a group effort,” Raeanne said. “It’s going to be an amazing play.”
She is interested in pursuing a career in child psychology, and she said her experience as director has taught her some things about people.
“Doing the play has helped me learn that everybody is different and they react differently,” she said.
The cast of 11 includes seniors Katie Marler, Dylan Deines, and Raeanne; juniors Kate Basore, Meghan David, Grace Peterson, Emily Schlesener, Maddy Millspaugh, Hayleigh Mendoza, and Zach Barney; and sophomore Grace Knepp. Along with Peterson and Becca Casey, the entire cast serves as the stage crew.
“Oz” will be at 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday on the main gym stage.
Admission is free, but freewill donations will be accepted to help support future drama productions.