Friendship is a strong theme in Spotlight Youth Theater Kane County's production of "The Wizard of Oz," both onstage and off.
"The friendship between the four cast members playing Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow is special," director Lindsey Branson said. "They are always together. Their bond really translates well."
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Shannon McCoy, 14, of Elgin, who plays Dorothy, agrees.
"What's special about this show is how well we all get along," Shannon said. We help each other out."
For Shannon, who is home-schooled, her involvement in Spotlight (formerly known as Christian Youth Theater) has been a boon for her social life.
"I love being part of a theater family," she said. "This is my 10th show; I started when I was 8. I've made tons of friends."
Branson has directed 19 shows for Spotlight and said "Wizard of Oz" is a fun show to do partly because of the energy and camaraderie of the cast, but also because of the high standards they've set for themselves.
"We are dedicated to a high-quality production," Branson said. "Our choreography, costumes, music, and the theater itself, they all stand out.
"We have some great special effects including black light and a wizard projection."
Branson praised the cast for how they make their roles unique.
"We have about 60 cast members. Each cast member really owns their role," Branson said.
Shannon McCoy said even the kids with the smallest roles infuse them with memorable qualities.
"We tell each other we all have special characters," Shannon said. "The younger kids playing the Munchkins, they have so much energy."
This is Shannon's first lead role. She said she was stunned to find out she'd been chosen to play Dorothy.
"We all audition a one-minute song. The next day, we find out if we get called back. I got a callback and kept going through the process. By the end of the day it was down to me and my friend Kayla, who plays the Scarecrow. I found out I was chosen for Dorothy on the third day."
Shannon has some advice for any kids who might be interested in theater but a little bit unsure about it.
"Definitely try out," she advises. "It's always worth it. You'll make a lot of friends."
Shows are set for 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26; and 2 and 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 and Sunday, Oct. 28 at the Batavia Fine Arts Center, 1201 Main St., Batavia. Tickets are $9-12. For details or to purchase tickets, visit spotlight.org. Call (847) 516-2298.