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W-MU students given one week to prep, perform 'Wizard of Oz'

GTNS photo by Isaac Hamlet

Winfield-Mt. Union senior Mollie Hinkle (left) has been in the plays put on at her school by Prairie Fire since third grade. This year she will be playing Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” Pictured above include (from the left) Avalin Grieser as Toto, Prairie Fire staff member Derek Brookens as the Scarecrow and Abby Miller as the Tin Man.
GTNS photo by Isaac Hamlet Winfield-Mt. Union senior Mollie Hinkle (left) has been in the plays put on at her school by Prairie Fire since third grade. This year she will be playing Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” Pictured above include (from the left) Avalin Grieser as Toto, Prairie Fire staff member Derek Brookens as the Scarecrow and Abby Miller as the Tin Man.
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WINFIELD — Being able to memorize and perform a play inside of a week is something Mollie Hinkle’s been doing since third grade.

Her most recent efforts will be on display Friday, March 8, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, March 9, at 2 p.m., when Winfield-Mt. Union Community School District’s small gym hosts performances of “The Wizard of Oz.”

The play is brought courtesy of Prairie Fire Children’s Theater, a touring theater company which sends two professionals to a school for one week to help students perform a musical.

“(Rehearsals last) a week and I think that’s part of the reason we have so many kids,” said Lindsey Pogmore, W-MU’s vocal music teacher. “Kids can commit to a week, then they’re done.”

It’s a commitment that’s been easy for Dorothy actress and senior Mollie Hinkle to make. With the exception of her sophomore year, when she was taking drivers education classes, she has participated in the Prairie Fire performance every year since they started coming to W-MU.

“Ever since I was a kid, my family told me I was kind of dramatic,” Hinkle said. “So having that plus the musical aspect just makes this kind of the perfect gift.”

The theater company provides everything for the performance from costumes to sets to scripts and music. Pogmore estimates it costs the school $3,000 to bring the professionals in for the week, but students are charged nothing to participate and all ticket sales go toward hiring Prairie Fire again for the next year.

“I like that it (involves) all of the kids,” said Pogmore. “It’s first-graders, it’s seniors in high school. Seeing them all work together is a lot of fun.”

In the past, Prairie Fire has put on adaptations of other classic children’s stories with the school like “Alice in Wonderland” and “Cinderella” with a few repeats, but this is the first time W-MU will be performing “The Wizard of Oz.”

Starting on Monday, March 4, the students are given the week to learn the show with the help of the Prairie Fire professionals.

“We audition on Monday,” Pogmore said. “There’s no stress, there’s no preparation, we just do some theater games. It’s fun that way.”

Wednesday, March 6, marked the first full rehearsal, followed by another on Thursday and culminating in a finished show to be performed Friday and Saturday.

“It’s cool I was chosen to be Dorothy,” said Hinkle. “It’s cool that I’m able to put myself in front of all the younger kids who are doing this.”