| Apr 24, 2008

Feature Article - April 24, 2008

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Feature Article -April 24, 2008 Wizard of Oz: a parent’s perspectiveby Karin Ferguson-Reynolds

The Moms of Oz: parents to Munchkins and flying monkeys.

The parents of children performing in the upcoming NFLT Wizard of Oz production thought they knew what they were getting into when auditions began last December. However, when director Brian Robertson distributed the schedule in January for the next three months of rehearsals, many may have briefly wondered if they were up for the challenge. Now, with less than two weeks until the show, all doubts are erased as we anxiously anticipate the opening of this wonderful spring musical.

There are over 30 children preparing for this production, which has meant big changes for them and their families. Some challenges have been: managing homework, hastened dinners, getting enough sleep and, for many, extended travel time to get to practice on two school nights per week, as well as Sunday afternoons. Many of the parents involved have more than one child in the production, or they have had to bring along siblings and keep them quietly entertained during rehearsals -- not an easy task! It has meant a more hectic lifestyle, lots of shuffling, and the help of family and friends. It has definitely been a team effort. In addition to the play, many of the children are also in sports or music, so their nights are packed full.

A number of parents are in the production alongside their children and some of the little ones who are in a production for the first time are very happy to have a parent on stage. Many of the parents see it as a wonderful bonding opportunity. Randy Kempe, who is helping offstage, says, “We wanted it to be a family function; what a great way to get out of the house.” Behind the scenes, parents and family members have stepped into essential roles such as helping with costume changes, make-up, and finding props. Parents are always there as objective critics who provide support and encouragement along the way. They are undoubtedly integral to the success of this large-scale musical production.

During preparation for the show, parents are noting that the kids are not only having a great time, but are also learning some very valuable life skills. Cheryl Hole says, “The girls are seeing that the community is bigger than where we live. They are meeting new friends and gaining the knowledge that persevering is hard work but well worth it in the end.” Janet Revell, whose twins are the youngest cast members, says, “This is enriching their lives; they both have disabilities and this has allowed them to really feel a part of a group.” Not to mention that being in a play with their grandpa, John McDougall (a.k.a. Uncle Henry), “is something they will remember forever.”

The Wizard of Oz brings together kids and adults of all ages; it has been both exhausting and exciting and the parents have enjoyed watching and being part of the process. Annette Parr comments about her daughter, “It is great to see the progression of her learning and perfecting her many roles and dance numbers.” Despite all the lack of sleep, the grumpy mornings, meals on the fly and the uncontrollable urge to incessantly hum munchkin-land tunes, parents and children are eagerly anticipating the show’s opening. Tracy Riddell-Keefe says “The hard work, teamwork and community involvement the boys are gaining is so worth it.” Anne Howes adds “We have waited a long time for another NFLT production with kids in it; it is just great! … I know I speak for all of the parents involved by saying that we are all so proud of the dedication and determination our children have shown getting ready for this play. Don’t wait to get your tickets. You will be amazed at all of the talent and you’ll surely be humming ‘We’re off to see the Wizard…’ along with us.”

Tickets are available at Gray's Grocery and the Sharbot Lake Pharmacy as well as Verona Rona Hardware. Adults are $12, students $10 and on the Sunday matinee there is a special $5 rate to encourage families with children to attend. Don't wait to get your tickets at the door; they may be sold out. Check www.nflt.ca for more information or call John at 613-279-2662.

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