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When Dorothy sets off to see the wizard of Oz, she is joined by others seeking a heart, a brain and courage.
For students at North Hardin High School, being involved in a production of “The Wiz” also has been a journey of sorts to find a variety of traits.
Appropriately enough, senior Joshua Navarrette found the courage to play the Cowardly Lion.
“Two years ago I never thought I’d be a lead character,” Navarrette said.
Though he had been in choir since third grade, Navarrette was new to drama. When he auditioned for “The Wiz” he originally tried for the role of Scarecrow. "The Wiz" debuted on Broadway in 1975 as an urbanized version of "The Wizard of Oz" that exclusively featured black actors.
Because he enjoys singing and dancing, Navarrette has been able to overcome his shyness.
A.J. Robinson made a similar observation.
“It helps me in a lot of ways but mostly in confidence,” the senior said, of the performing arts in general.
Robinson, who played Tin Man, said being in performing arts, such as band, drama and choir, gave him “the trait to want to try other things.”
Sarah Hack, a senior, echoed the sentiment that being involved in the performing arts helped build confidence. Hack has been active in theater for about five years and in choir since about the second grade, she said.
Hack said she was drawn to the “judgment-free zone” created by participating in performing arts at North Hardin High School.
“It helps you make friends,” Hack, who plays Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North, said.
Hack, who plans on pursuing a career as a doctor, said she got scholarships for making all-state with the choir.
For senior Aaron Nosich, who played several minor roles as well as worked backstage, the production required him to be more organized.
Being involved in “The Wiz” also took him out of his comfort zone because his role required him to dance, despite being tall and not really being able to dance well, he said. Others have gotten to know him better because of that.
“They notice how fun I am now,” Nosich said, noting this was the first year he was a member of choir.
Senior Syreeta Briggs, who played Dorothy, described the performing arts as “freeing” and an “escape” for her.
“It’s just something I’ve always gravitated to, even as a kid,” Briggs said, noting she’s been involved in performing arts since about the third grade.
Playing different characters, she said, is beneficial. The Dorothy role, for example, allowed her to play a "sweet, innocent" character she hadn't played in the past.
“I think it opens my perception of the world,” Briggs said.
NHHS choir director Beth Root said students to get to know others who are different than themselves as well as those who are similar while participating in the performing arts. Additionally they learn what the do and don’t like about working in a group.
“I feel that through the arts, the students learn what creativity can be, not what it is,” Root said.
Made possible through funds from the “Glee Give a Note Campaign” and through a grant from Very Special Arts of Kentucky, “The Wiz” also afforded students experience in a group dynamic, she said.
Part of that group dynamic is learning to get along with all the other actors, senior Kathleen Garcia said.
Garcia, who played Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, cited her own important discovery on her journey in the world of performing arts.
“It helps me be me because I’ve never really found myself in anything else,” she said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.