By Todd Martin

Special to the Herald

Central Texans can enjoy a soulful, bluesy classic while supporting a group of hardworking Killeen students this weekend.

Shoemaker High School’s choir and theater students, as well as other students, are coming together to perform “The Wiz” at 7 p.m. today and Saturday in the high school’s auditorium.

Many will recall the Broadway hit and even more will recall Michael Jackson in the movie version of the soulish rendition of the timeless tale of Dorothy’s tornadic ride to Oz, her three hapless friends and the wizard.

In “The Wiz,” the main characters “ease on down the road” instead of skipping along yellow bricks.

The actors get musical help from a quartet of “do-wop girls” as well as pianist Stephen Barrick, Shoemaker’s choir director.

Shoemaker senior Tarryn McClinton plays Evilene, the wicked witch. She said students were thrilled to put on such a famous play in a fun way.

“I’m excited,” she said during rehearsal Thursday. “‘The Wiz’ is my favorite musical. I can’t stop thinking about it.”

She made clear the role of the evil witch was outside her comfort zone.

“The fun part is I can be mean and boss people around, but it is hard for me to be evil,” McClinton said.

Chara McMillan, a Shoemaker sophomore, will play Dorothy, which means she’ll be on stage almost throughout the entire play.

She said fans of “The Wizard of Oz” will notice a more soulful version of the classic story.

“We do a little more jumping up and down,” she said. “We ease on down the road instead of following a yellow brick road.”

Ashley Calderon, associate choir director at Shoemaker, said the performance, with music, drama, lights and stage sets is exciting because it includes the whole school.

“A lot of choir and theater students are here, but some are from outside of those programs and we’re excited about that,” she said.

Calderon said everyone will be able to relate to it.

“It has a lot of humor and good solid jazz, blues and rock music,” Calderon said. “There is a wealth of characters, and the sets and choreography are done well.”

“It’s a great show,” said Cheryl Boyd, theater director. “It’s recognizable. It’s soulful, jazzy fun and we have a cute Toto,” she said of her own dog, Mina, who appears in a cameo at the beginning and end of the play.

Stage manager Kendrick Thomas, a Shoemaker junior, said he watched the movie with his mom when he was a small child.

“This is amazing,” he said. “The music and acting are coming together. The show we watched as kids is coming to life. I’m telling people how to create and we’re recreating a childhood memory.”

Thomas said students at Shoemaker were talking about “The Wiz” two years ago. Their hard work through the semester break was worth bringing the production to fruition.

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