“Wizard of OZ” by William Carey Academy
IF you had stopped by the Theatre Institute Chattagram in the evenings of March 4, 5, and 6, you would hardly believe you were in Chittagong. Taking a look around, your gaze would fall on young people dressed in bright clothes, wearing sparkling makeup, and bursting into song and dance at every opportunity. You would watch with awe and wonder as the Theatre Institute's stage came to life with terrifying flying monkeys, fantastic scenery, a green-tinted wicked witch, and a human scarecrow. This year the drama department of William Carey Academy, an American-system school in Chittagong, put on a production of The Wizard of Oz.
Based on a book written by L. Frank Baum in 1900, and on the 1939 film adaptation of that book, the Wizard of Oz is one of the most classic, beloved musicals of all time. The show follows the story of young Dorothy Gale, a farm girl from Kansas, who is discontent with her simple home. She dreams of going “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, where there isn't any trouble. Dorothy learns the true meaning of the expression “be careful what you wish for” when a terrifying tornado takes her away from her home and drops her in the middle of the magical land of Oz. Once in Oz, Dorothy must overcome terrible difficulties to find her way back home. She faces wicked witches, flying monkeys, and evil insects. Fortunately, she makes many friends along the way: the good witch Glinda, and the Wizard of Oz himself. As she goes on her quest she befriends three wonderful companions: a Scarecrow without a brain, a Tin Man without a heart, and a Lion who has no courage. As the four friends set out to find the things they desire, they conquer their weaknesses. In the end, they realise that they had the things they needed all along, and with the help of a pair of magical ruby slippers, Dorothy is sent back to Kansas.
The students of William Carey put an enormous amount of effort into this production. They painted sets, hung scenery, memorized hundreds of lines, and learned many songs and dances. It was obvious to everyone in the audience that the students were extremely motivated. The cast and crew of the Wizard of Oz had a very special reason to try their best. On December 30th, 2009, Sahim Rashid, the student who had been cast in the role of Tin Man, passed away unexpectedly. The days ahead were difficult for the members of the William Carey Drama Department. Most of them felt like they would never be able to perform without Sahim, but in the end they decided to perform the play in his memory. Rather than replacing the irreplaceable Tin Man, a new role was created based on other characters in the Oz book series by L.Frank Baum. Anika Tabassum, a senior and one of the school's most experienced actresses, graciously accepted the role of the Wind-Up Dolly.
The cast set off once again on the yellow brick road to Oz, but this time with a different purpose. They were no longer skipping and singing just to give an audience a good time. The cast and crew were now trying to convey the themes of the story: friendship, love, perseverance, and heart. These themes were also the values Sahim Rashid had lived by, so the students felt that doing the play despite their loss was a truly fitting way to honor his memory.
When the students finally got to perform, the Theatre Institute Chattagram became a magical place where dreams came true. The students performed the musical every night to a full house. The audience was wowed by the fantastic efforts of the talented cast and the hard-working crew. Every student gave a stellar performance. Anika Tabassum lit up the stage with her adorable character, the Wind-Up Doll. Grace Walter was an endearingly plucky Dorothy. Shadman Khan, who portrayed the role of the Scarecrow with hilarious commitment, got many laughs and cheers from the audience. Adeeb Hussain played the Cowardly Lion with unforgettable finesse. The technical crew created excellent light and sound effects, sets, properties and costumes.
With so much heart put into the process of creating the magical Land of Oz, it was no surprise that the show amazed every audience. A good time was had by all, and truly the memory of Sahim Rashid was greatly honored.