Upper Township Middle School invites the community to its performance of "The Wizard of Oz" on Thursday and Friday, May 9 and 10.

The Middle School drama coach Denise Landset, also a seventh-grade math teacher at the school, said she thinks the community will be surprised by the talent of the local children, and she encourages Upper Township residents to come out support these kids, even if they don't know a child in the show.

The middle school's "Wizard of Oz" performance is an auditioned show, with lead parts going to children who have been performing in school and community theater productions for several years as well as children who are new to the stage.

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"The school stage is where many big time stars get their start," she said.

Performing the role of Dorothy is sixth-grader Stella Schwartz, who has been acting in community shows since she was 6 years old, her first performance being in "Once on the Island" with The Shaken Not Stirred Players, in which she was the only child cast member. Stella also has been dancing and taking vocal lesson for many years and is hoping for a future in performing.

"My dream is to be on Broadway, and I really, really want to be performer at Disney World or even be a princess," the 12-year-old said.

Playing the role of Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" has also been one of Stella's longtime dreams.

"I was actually Dorothy once for Halloween, and everyone has told me since I was little that I fit the part perfectly. It's always been my dream role," she said. "When I found out I got the role, I was so excited. I was kind frozen. It took a second for it to become a reality."

Stella said she is performing with an amazing cast and is very excited for the show.

"I am working with amazing people," she said. "Some of them have never even been in a show before and they have amazing voices."

The show is directed by students, this year by eighth-graders Michael Beebe and Juana Parral. Landset also allows the students to chose the annual performance. When they chose "The Wizard of Oz," she said she was psyched.

"When I was in the third grade, I was the scarecrow in 'Wizard of Oz,'" she said.

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If you go

What: Upper Township Middle School's Spring Production of 'The Wizard of Oz'

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 9 and Friday, May 10

Where: Upper Township Middle School, 525 Perry Road, Petersburg

Cost: $6 for adults, $3 for students and children younger than age 5 are free.

All are welcome.


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