The GNA Drama Club presents: The Wizard of Oz

Follow The GNA Players as they head down the yellow brick road to Oz on March 10 and 11


Front row from left, are Jasper Vick and Isaiah Swartz. Middle row from left, are Mateo Ricci and Ryan Ortiz. Back row from left, are MacKenzie Stratton, Maura Jenceleski, and Izabella Gronka. Not featured is Samaya Carden.

GNA CAMPUS — There’s no place like home … There’s no place like home …

A set of recognizable lines for just about anyone is ready to be brought to life by Greater Nanticoke Area High School’s theatre department. After nearly three years of no stage productions at GNA, there’s a new face to dim the house lights and open the curtains once again.

It starts within the GNA community. David Baker has been working within the school district for six years now as a speech therapist and has recently offered to step up as the new theatre director for The GNA Players. As a performer himself, Mr. Baker knows exactly what it takes to make his students shine. 

At the beginning of the school year, Baker announced his plans to stage The Wizard of Oz, a classic tale of family, friendship, and the true significance of home. The show follows a young Kansas girl by the familiar name of Dorothy Gale who happens to be caught up in a frightful tornado. It transports her to the merry old land of Oz filled with lively munchkins, flying monkeys, and witches of all kinds, but the main event is the great and powerful Oz: the greatest wizard in the world, known for his ability to make anyone’s wishes come true!

As Dorothy makes her way down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, she meets three friends along the way. Together, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Lion link arms and skip all the way to the enormous door guarding the vast city only told in tales. Once there, anticipation is the only thing left for the fab four to feel. With the help of the Wizard of Oz, the four friends will finally have a home, a brain, a heart, and the nerve.

Of course, there is much more to the classic story, but The GNA Insider will leave that to The GNA Players and crew to present to audience members. 

When talking to Mr. Baker about his inspiration behind the production he said he was working to bring a show that would catch the interest of the student body since the program hasn’t performed a musical since the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did he want the high school students to be involved, but he opened the doors to GNA Elementary students as well. “I thought that Wizard of Oz could be that show. I also like that the show exemplifies morals that we should be teaching our students in today’s world.” 

And he’s absolutely right! The family-friendly show is filled with themes of teamwork, loyalty, and self-confidence. “Our greatest strengths are inside of us, even when we do not think so.” Parents and families will be grateful for the lessons this show will instill in their children. 

Auditions for the musical were held in mid-November and the process brought a nostalgic buzz among students. Mr. Baker and the rest of the musical staff chose a set of students dedicated to their craft to make up the main cast of the show. 

Senior Maura Jenceleski was chosen for the role of Dorothy Gale. “I was absolutely overjoyed when I found out that I had gotten the role. We had such a talented group of students audition this year, and I was honored to just be a part of it,” said Jenceleski. When asked what she was most excited about for the role of Dorothy, she stated “I’m thrilled to be back on the stage. Performing and being able to be someone slightly or completely different from me is always so fun. I also enjoy finding similarities between me and my roles. In this case, Dorothy is much like my younger self. Dorothy is just so spirited and brave. The friends she meets on her journey are some of the sweetest people, too. Everything about this play is just so exciting.” 

Sophomore Mateo Ricci was cast as the amicable Scarecrow!

Sophomores Mateo Ricci, who was cast as The Scarecrow, and Ryan Ortiz, the Lion, were also enthused to take on the role. Ortiz’s favorite character was actually the Lion and he felt as though his best attribute was his cowardice. Ortiz explained, “It makes his character fun! The lion brings comedic relief to the show.” Both Ortiz and Ricci’s characters bring good laughs to the audience as Ricci loves how silly the Scarecrow is as well. “Plus, I have my very first solo in this musical,” exclaimed Ricci. Freshman Samaya Carden, who was chosen to play the Tinman, agreed. “I was surprised to be cast with such a role. I expected to get a much smaller part.” This was their first ever time receiving lead roles for a stage production. As a queer, plus-sized student, Ricci was also very excited to announce the inclusivity of the cast. There’s a variety of students who are preaching body positivity and self-confidence in roles that they might’ve never imagined themselves in. Anybody can play any role as long as they put their mind to it!

When it comes to freshman Jasper Vick, he was declared Oz, the great and powerful. He admitted that his favorite part of the musical is that it’s actually named after him. “The big reveal of the wizard is going to be the most entertaining part for audience members,” said Vick. With being a popular, sought-after character, the Wizard needs his own guard. That’s where freshman Isaiah Swartz comes in. As the guard, Swartz is most excited about the costumes he gets to wear on stage.

Sophomore Izabella Gronka plays the bubbly and sweet witch, Glinda!

For junior MacKenzie Stratton and sophomore Izabella Gronka, their characters couldn’t be any more different. Stratton was chosen to be the Wicked Witch of the West and loves her sassy remarks. As for Gronka, she was cast as the bubbly and compassionate Glinda. Both girls are fidgeting with anticipation as they prepare for audiences to come and see the show. “We have a wonderful cast that will be working very hard over the next couple of months to bring this infamous story to life,” explained Gronka. Stratton agreed wholeheartedly, “The Wizard of Oz is a classic and all of the students put a lot of time and effort into the performance. It would be wonderful to see support for our arts!”

After spending time with The Wizard of Oz cast members, Mr. Baker saw the passion and devotion to the production. “Every student that has walked through the doors of the school, since the night of auditions, has come to rehearsals with such energy and enthusiasm.” Baker admires all of the students who come in working so hard to achieve their final product. He feels they are going above and beyond his original expectations. 

Mr. Baker is ready to show the community just how talented this group of kids really is. Only a handful of students have a history of performing, so most of the cast is new to the stage. “In my opinion, it takes guts to do something you’ve never done before and commit to it for a four-month process.” Don’t be fooled, it takes not only a main cast but an entire ensemble and crew standing behind them with support. With the time and effort these students are putting in, the final product will have been worth it. 

A big thank you to Mr. Baker and the cast of The Wizard of Oz for taking the time to sit down with The GNA Insider and bring the inside scoop regarding the production process.

For those interested in attending GNA’s spring musical, The Wizard of Oz, be sure to mark your calendars for March 10 and 11. Both the Friday and Saturday shows will be at 7 pm. Ticket prices are $5 for students and seniors and $10 for adults.

The GNA Players deserve a full house during both showings. The show is a timeless classic, perfect for all ages. Be sure to bring friends, family, and anyone you can find to enjoy Dorothy and friends as they travel down the yellow brick road to the wonderful city of Oz!