Real-life dog to appear in Oz production; Local students attend special preview

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Once again, the drama department is preparing for a fall musical full of energetic cast members and a new, unexpected addition. The Wizard of Oz will feature a real-life dog named Bella.
Senior Kathryn Koerber volunteered her chihuahua to play the part of main character Dorothy’s dog, Toto. Koerber knew that drama teacher and director Mrs. Nancy Green was in need of a dog that could play the part. “I’m not quite sure what the production would have done without a live dog,” Koerber said. She added that the drama department “did not want a person to play Toto since it wouldn’t seem as professional.”
Working with a chihuahua is as just interesting as it sounds, according to Koerber. “Bella comes to rehearsal around once a week and will continue to show up more frequently as the shows near their performing dates,” Koerber explains. “She is kept on a leash for most of the rehearsal, if she’s not in someone’s arms.” The senior said that whenever Bella does a good job performing or begins to get a little squirrely, “the cast members feed her carrots since they are her absolute favorite.”
Having a live dog on stage adds a different dynamic to the show according to some cast members, but Koerber believes “the best part about having Bella in the show is seeing how she helps the cast bond with each other.” Because dogs can be pretty unpredictable, Koerber explains the cast knows if Bella pees or barks, “everyone has to learn to play it off and act professional.”
The performances of Oz will begin with dress rehearsals scheduled for November 28 which will be performed for surrounding schools, including Edgewood, North Harford, North Bend, and Jarrettsville Elementary Schools.
As for involving the community in the shows, Green answers, “It is important to involve them in every available aspect. Having these schools come to our shows allows other drama departments in Harford County to see what lies ahead if they choose to embark on studying the arts as a part of their future.” These feeder school students play a huge part in the production, since many of them are taking on the role of Munchkins, according to the director.
“During one of my fine art teacher meetings, we had the opportunity to ask interested students from our feeder schools, including those from Jarrettsville, North Bend, North Harford, and Norrisville Elementary schools, if they wanted to be a part of Oz,” Green comments. “At auditions, I was expecting [like] 20 kids to come, but 41 of them showed up. I couldn’t choose to cut any of them, so we kept everyone for the part.”
Be sure to catch everyone in action on November 29, 30 and December 1. Katie Koerber

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