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Article updated: 10/30/2012 2:53 PM

Journey through a different 'Oz' at St. Charles North

By Susan Klovstad

"I liked the modern twist on an old classic," said director Natalee Hryniewicz on why she chose "Oz" by Don Zolidis as the fall play for St. Charles North High School.

"I also thought the play had a very good message about moving forward in life and overcoming life's tragedies," Hryniewicz said.

There will be three performances of "Oz" -- 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1-3, at the high school's auditorium, 255 Red Gate Road, St. Charles. Tickets are $7, $5 for students and $3 for seniors.

Although named "Oz," this story differs from the classic "Wizard of Oz."

"The play begins at a funeral, and then takes place in a dream world of Oz, but in this Oz -- the scarecrow is happy he doesn't have a brain, and the tin man is grateful he doesn't have a heart, because life can be so much easier if you don't think about or feel things," Hryniewicz said. "However, one needs to think, feel, and fear in order to move forwards in life."

A character named Beth finds herself journeying through this world, wondering what role she plays in this classic story gone awry. The production is described as "a hilarious and heart-wrenching exploration of grief and perseverance on the road to acceptance."

The cast includes Eva Sarnelli, Jacque Miller, Kathy Solomon, Brian Arvanites, Jenna Karr, Dan Solon, Vincent Sarna, Maggie Rasmussen, Carlee Bettler, Greg Dieter, Connor Speck and Thomas Bravos.

Producing a show with such a strong message had its challenges, Hryniewicz said.

"The most challenging aspects were in how we went about keeping a story that is full of tragedy light and entertaining for an audience in a tasteful way, and still preserving the integrity of the show's message," she said.

But she's convinced audiences will enjoy the show, especially some of the special touches by the cast and crew.

"I think the costumes are very interesting; we did not go the traditional "Wizard of Oz" route that we could have gone," she said. "One of our students composed all original music for the show. And the tornadoes have been choreographed in a unique way."

Tickets are available at the box office one hour before the show begins. For details, call (331) 228-6236 or visit north.d303.org.

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