Mumbi the Wiched Witch, played by Olivia Bolin, finds the ruby boots to be a shocking experience during rehearsal for the Thunder Mountain High School production of “Choose Your Own Oz” at TMHS on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Mumbi the Wiched Witch, played by Olivia Bolin, finds the ruby boots to be a shocking experience during rehearsal for the Thunder Mountain High School production of “Choose Your Own Oz” at TMHS on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain theater asks audience to ‘Choose Your Own Oz’

Interactive play opens this week

Thunder Mountain High School’s upcoming play is a take on a classic story you haven’t seen before.

“Choose Your Own Oz,” a two-act, 90-minute play that opens Friday, is a remix of the “Wizard of Oz” story that takes cues from audience participation. The audience decides exactly how the story unfolds, what its characters wear and what the audience sees and hears.

“This show is not primarily based on improv, but it’s going to be different every single night,” said Olivia Bolin, a Thunder Mountain senior who said she’s bucking type by playing the show’s power-suit-rocking Mumbi the Wicked Witch. “ My personality does not make you think, ‘Oh, yeah, you’re a wicked witch. It’s different for me. I think that’s a good step.”

Mumbi the Wicked Witch, played by Olivia Bolin, has an encounter with the Enchanted Forest during rehearsal for the Thunder Mountain High School production of “Choose Your Own Oz” at TMHS on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Mumbi the Wicked Witch, played by Olivia Bolin, has an encounter with the Enchanted Forest during rehearsal for the Thunder Mountain High School production of “Choose Your Own Oz” at TMHS on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

You could see both the Friday and Saturday shows, and Sunday’s matinee show would still have something new to show.

Dorothy Kuterbach, a Thunder Mountain senior who plays the Narrator, said she’s never performed in such an interactive show before.

“It’s challenging, and I like the challenge it provides,” Kuterbach said.

Narrator Nigel Dee, played by Dorothy Kuterbach, left, and Dorothy Gale, played by Devin Moorehead, during rehearsal for the Thunder Mountain High School production of “Choose Your Own Oz” at TMHS on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)
                                Narrator Nigel Dee, played by Dorothy Kuterbach, left, and Dorothy Gale, played by Devin Moorehead, during rehearsal for the Thunder Mountain High School production of “Choose Your Own Oz” at TMHS on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Narrator Nigel Dee, played by Dorothy Kuterbach, left, and Dorothy Gale, played by Devin Moorehead, during rehearsal for the Thunder Mountain High School production of “Choose Your Own Oz” at TMHS on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire) Narrator Nigel Dee, played by Dorothy Kuterbach, left, and Dorothy Gale, played by Devin Moorehead, during rehearsal for the Thunder Mountain High School production of “Choose Your Own Oz” at TMHS on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

She said examples of interaction include pausing the show, bringing audience members on stage, spinning a wheel to make decisions about the show and pulling from the bag.

Even the main character’s iconic footwear is subject to change depending on the audience’s whim.

At a rehearsal last week, Devin Moorehead, a Thunder Mountain sophomore who plays Dorothy, was wearing Crocs with green and yellow marbling in lieu of more familiar ruby-red slippers.

“This is the most comfortable option,” Moorehead said.

She said the show’s variability and interacting with audiences mean actors need to really inhabit their characters.

“You have to know what your character would say in all of these different situations,” Moorehead said.

However, “Choose You Own Oz” will still contain plenty of elements familiar to anyone who has ever seen or read an Oz-related movie or story.

[Video: Meet Perseverance Theatre’s Artistic Director]

Familiar characters including a cowardly lion (Aurora Ward); wicked witch (Bolin); good witch (Nicole Yancey); scarecrow (Ursula Syrene); munchkins (Elena Lohrey, Caitlin Parker and River Carroll); Toto (Faith Swearingin) and tin man (Irene Oduro) all factor in to the show

Glinda the Good Witch, played by Nicole Yancey, left, and Dorothy Gale, played by Devin Moorehead, perform during rehearsal for the Thunder Mountain High School production of “Choose Your Own Oz” at TMHS on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Glinda the Good Witch, played by Nicole Yancey, left, and Dorothy Gale, played by Devin Moorehead, perform during rehearsal for the Thunder Mountain High School production of “Choose Your Own Oz” at TMHS on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

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“It’s a hassle, honestly,” said Irene Oduro, a Thunder Mountain senior and the show’s Tin Man, of her costume.

However, after learning makeup used for the movie made its Tin Man actor ill, Oduro conceded she had it better than Ebsen.

Despite the involved costume, Oduro joined her cast mates in praising “Choose Your Own Oz.”

“I love it,” Oduro said. “It’s fantastic. I like that we all get options. There’s really not many shows like this where you can interact with the cast.”

Munchkins Elena Lohrey, Caitlin Parker and River Carroll display the dead witch’s shoes during rehearsal for the Thunder Mountain High School production of “Choose Your Own Oz” at TMHS on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Munchkins Elena Lohrey, Caitlin Parker and River Carroll display the dead witch’s shoes during rehearsal for the Thunder Mountain High School production of “Choose Your Own Oz” at TMHS on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Know & Go

What: “Choose Your Own Oz”

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15 and Saturday, Nov. 16.; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17.

Where: Thunder Mountain High School Auditorium, 3101 Dimond Park Loop.

Admission: Tickers cost $10 for students, $15 for seniors and $20 for adults. There is a family package available for $50 that includes admission for two adults and two students. Tickets are available at Hearthside Books, Centennial Hall, Juneau Arts & Culture Center, online at jahc.org or at the door.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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