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Emerald City Goes ‘Green’ in F.C. Youngsters’ Production of ‘Oz!!’

ozGPotato chip bag skirts and newspaper shirts were all the fashion rage when Moonlit Wings campers took the stage for their one and only production of “OZ!!” last Friday, Aug. 6 at Providence Recreation Center in Falls Church.

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MOONLIT WINGS campers rehearse for their production of “OZ!!” (Photo: Vicki Coe, News-Press)

 

Potato chip bag skirts and newspaper shirts were all the fashion rage when Moonlit Wings campers took the stage for their one and only production of “OZ!!” last Friday, Aug. 6 at Providence Recreation Center in Falls Church.

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The 30 Moonlit Wings campers, ages 7 to 14, set to work over the two weeks prior to the show to create a twist on the traditional “Wizard of Oz” tale called “OZ!!” The original book was used for the basic storyline, but it was changed in order to fit the environmentally friendly goal of the production. Dorothy and her friends travel to the Emerald City, a “Go Green” city, and are ordered to destroy the Wicked Witch of the West, who seeks to pollute the world with trash and waste.

Also deviating from the original story, the songs used were from a variety of different sources, including popular music of the day and even the television show “Glee.”

“We created it based on what the kids liked and wanted to do,” artistic director and choreographer, Walid Chaya, said.

This newly created version was based around the theme “live clean, go green,” particularly focusing on “reduce, reuse, recycle.” This theme was incorporated not only into the redone story of the play, but also into the technical aspects of it.

“All of our costumes are made to go green. There was a lot about conserving,” Chaya said.

Campers made the costumes and stage props from reused materials, such as discarded potato chip bags and old newspapers. But campers were taught to recycle much more than just materials.

“The play is very ensemble-based so that everyone can shine equally. We had the actors play multiple parts so that even if they weren’t Dorothy or the lion they could get the same stage time. In this way, we taught them to also recycle themselves,” Chaya said.

In addition to learning to live a greener lifestyle, the Moonlit Wings camp sought to teach the campers the ins and outs of theater and music.

“Most of these kids had never sung even in front of their parents, much less an audience. We brought in a professional coach to help out,” Chaya said.

Campers were also in charge of making the costumes for the play. However, instead of wasting paper creating elaborate background settings, a projector was used to project the various settings onto a large canvas.

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Much of the work done for the play was the work of the campers, including the choreography and playwriting, with guidance from the creative team, comprised of Chaya, production director Jasmine Coles and technical director James Harden.

“It’s really amazing to see 7 to 14 year olds learn things that you learned back in high school and even into college,” Chaya said.

Each session, Moonlit Wings welcomes a new cast of 30 campers to take part in the theatrical performance. The campers experience singing, dancing, improvisation and creative expression, as well as being taken on a field trip to witness a professional production. At the end of the two weeks experience, family and friends of the campers are welcomed to watch the fruit of their labor at the “end of camp sharing.” While the free event is open to the public, limited space often leaves room only for family and friends.

Moonlit Wings’ next production will be “Seuss on Stage” at the end of August, where kids will read many of Dr. Seuss’ most popular works and create a variety show based on them, aiming to promote reading and helping others. For more information on Moonlit Wings Productions, visit moonlitwings.org.

 

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