Dancers rehearse a tap number, under the direction of Serra graduate Cassie Fedor, who returned to her alma mater to choreograph the show. (David P. Adams photo, special to Tube City Almanac)
If you go...
“The Wizard of Oz”
Tickets: $8 for adults, $5 for students, available by calling the school office at 412-751-2020, or at the door.
If Dorothy Gale had as many family connections as the cast, crew -- and even the director -- have called upon to help produce Serra Catholic High School’s spring musical, she may never have left Kansas.
In “The Wizard of Oz,” which opens today and runs through April 6, siblings are cast as leads, a Serra grad returns as choreographer and gets to work with her brother, while Ryan Gedman’s brother creates his Tinman costume and paints sets.
Although Alani and Abby DiLonardo have performed in previous Serra musicals, this is the first time they have shared some serious stage time.
Alani is Dorothy, while Abby is the Cowardly Lion. Savino DiLonardo is part of the elementary ensemble.
“The plan originally was to have all the Munchkins be elementary students, but plans changed,” director Jesse Bush said. “All of the elementary students are siblings of the high school cast.”
Alani said she prepared for auditions by watching videos of others performing Dorothy before putting her own spin on the role.
“We have a really good cast. We’re like a family,” she said. “They all call me Mom now.”
Although she didn’t specifically audition for the Lion, Abby said she’s happy she got that part.
“I really like it,” she said. “Listening to recordings to develop my Lion voice was fun, and it’s a good part. I’m enjoying it. Plus I do get lots of time onstage with my sister for the first time.”
Serra students plan to wow audiences with their spring musical, "The Wizard of Oz." (David P. Adams photo, special to Tube City Almanac)
Serra’s stage is located in the gymnasium, which presents some unique situations when staging a musical.
“It is challenging, but being creative with the sets and all makes it a lot of fun,” Bush said. “We are going to use the entire gym for the show this year. Characters will be coming and going throughout the audience.”
Kinship includes other theater groups as a sort of family, with costumes and some set pieces borrowed from other productions.
“All of the sets were built or repurposed,” Bush said. “Sets were built by my father and painted by Tyler Gedman. Costumes were borrowed from McKeesport's middle school, Woodland Hills High School, Jeannette High School, McGuffey High School and Stage Right.”
Paige Thatcher said although she portrays the Wicked Witch of the West, “I’m personally not wicked or cruel, so it’s hard to act that way. I’m acting sassier, and not so mean.”
She said she’s very excited but kind of nervous with the challenges “Oz” brings to the cast, including the many musical and dance numbers.
“Our awesome choreographer is Cassie Fedor,” Bush said. “She’s a Serra alum and sister of Jimmy Fedor, the Scarecrow.”
Paige’s counterpart is Sarah Indyk as Glinda, the Good Witch. She said she specifically auditioned for the role.
“Is Glinda really ditzy?” Sarah challenged. “She acts like it, but she’s also kind of mean. She’s seeing things (with Dorothy’s arrival) that she’s never seen before. It’s exciting.”
Ryan said he decided to do Serra’s musical last year when he learned members of the ensemble did not have to audition. But then he said he got hooked when he found out how much fun it was so decided to audition for the Scarecrow this year.
“I have the same build, I wanted the part, so I took vocal lessons and learned how to sing and the movements,” he said.
He’s also happy his brother used his artistic talents not only for the sets, but to create his Tinman costume.
Nicholas Stumme as the Wizard of Oz/Professor Marvel (seated, center), is surrounded by other key characters in Serra's cast, with some playing more than one role. He is flanked by Paige Thatcher and Sarah Indyk as the Wicked Witch of the West/Almira Gulch and Glinda/Aunt Em, respectively. In back, from left, are Abby DiLonardo as Zeke/Cowardly Lion; Ryan Gedman as Hickory/Tinman; Alani DiLonardo as Dorothy Gale; and Jimmy Fedor as Hunk/Scarecrow. In front is Logan Kearns as Uncle Henry/Emerald City Guard. (David P. Adams photo, special to Tube City Almanac)
Alani revealed her Dorothy costume will be in its usual color, but with a black-and-white version as well, worn before she, Toto, and their house arrive in Oz.
Jimmy said he’s always wanted to play the Scarecrow since he first saw “Oz,” so definitely auditioned with that in mind. He said there’s a lot of depth and fun to the Scarecrow’s character.
“When we read through the script, and he says he doesn’t have a brain … he does have a brain, he just doesn’t realize it yet,” Jimmy said. “He is intelligent. Look at the decisions he makes.”
Jimmy said he also loved working with his sister as choreographer.
Nicky Stumme said he watched the original movie and videos to see more about the Wizard’s role, and did not initially realize how much of a part he would get to play in the production.
Logan Kearns said he really just wanted a role in the show to perform alongside many of the seniors. He’s Dorothy’s Uncle Henry while in Kansas, and greets visitors at the gates to the Emerald City, deciding if any is worthy of an audience with the Great Oz.
“This is one of my favorite senior classes, and I wanted to act with them,” he said. “I only saw the movie once.”
Some of the upperclassmen said they are pleased with the experience the freshmen bring to “Oz,” since many of them performed it in middle school.
Alani, Abby, and Ryan agreed preparing for the musical takes a big commitment and dedication from students, including the younger siblings when they joined the rest of the cast for the first time.
Cast, in order of appearance:
Dorothy Gale -- Alani DiLonardo, Aunt Em/Glinda, The Good Witch -- Sarah Indyk, Uncle Henry/Emerald City Guard -- Logan Kearns, Hunk/Scarecrow -- Jimmy Fedor, Zeke/Cowardly Lion -- Abby DiLonardo, Hickory/Tinman -- Ryan Gedman, Almira Gulch/Wicked Witch Of the West -- Paige Thatcher, Professor Marvel/Wizard of Oz -- Nicholas Stumme, Crows -- Emily Gault, Julie McCarthy, and Serafina Szarmach.
Trees -- Sarah Brammell, Lauren Karp, and Anna Osinski; Munchkin Mayor -- Noah Yeasted; Barrister -- Anna Edmundson; Coroner -- Sarah Brammell; City Fathers -- Logan Kearns and Dan Goldstein; Lullaby League -- Aubree Arelt, Mia Bacco, and Sammie Schulz; Lollipop Guild -- Emily Gault, Lindsay Schanck, and Serafina Szarmach; Nikko (Commander of the Flying Monkeys) -- Anna Edmundson; and Winkie General -- Dan Goldstein.
(Munchkins, Poppies, Ozians, Jitterbugs, Monkeys, Winkies) -- Aubree Arelt, Mia Bacco, Abby Bernick, Sarah Brammell, Alexis Bridges, Katie Crossen, Anna Edmundson, Michael Estocin, Nina Fassinger, Emily Gault, Dan Goldstein, Jordan Graham, Gabby Hrinda, Anna Iovino, Karley Irwin, Olivia Joscak, Lauren Karp, Logan Kearns, Mary Malandra, Julie McCarthy, Kyera O’Brien, Anna Osinski Paige Rock, Lindsay Schanck, Shelby Schneider, Sammie Schulz, Natalia Shearer, Serafina Szarmach, Cassie Ward, and Noah Yeasted.
Lyndsay Chirdon, Savino DiLonardo, Luke Edmundson, Mark Edmundson, Maria Goldstein, John Hrinda, Helania Shearer, Sammy Szarmach and Olivia Thatcher.
Stage Manager: Katelyn Kovalsky; Sound Board, Paige Bosic; Light Board, Kelsey Kovalsky; Hair and Makeup: Alayna Baughman, Natalie Makovics, Emily Martin, Maura Spang, and Elizabeth Straud; Run Crew: Joe Crossen, Jenna Gralewski, Ivie Harris, Gabby Liberatore, Andrew Massari, Gabby Mejalli, Jackie Moon, Emma Nilson, Amanda Pope, Harrison Potts, Maya Poziviak, Jordan Premozic, James Premozic, Hailey Reiter, Jenna
Revak, Sianna Sullivan, Rebecca Sullivan, and Trey Wilson; Set Artists: Jackie Moon, Maddie Buhaly, Jenna Revak, Cheyenne O’Brien, Anna Spudic, Sianna Sullivan and Melina DiMatteo-Snyder; Director, Jesse Bush; Choreographer, Cassie Fedor.
Bonnijean Cooney Adams is a former McKeesport Daily News editor. She may be reached at email@example.com.
Originally published April 03, 2019.