Call it a senior moment.
Jen Gordon, 18, a senior at White Plains High School, plays a member of the Lullaby League that welcomes the kid from Kansas to Munchkinland in “The Wizard of Oz.” This “Oz” marks a milestone, the end of Gordon’s musical career.
“It’s bittersweet,” Gordon says. “It’s been a really cool four years, a lot of fun. Opening the show is exciting, but the fact that it’s the last is bittersweet.”
In four years, Gordon has experienced the breadth of the musical canon at White Plains, from the classic “The Sound of Music” to the irreverent “Urinetown” to last year’s “Seussical” and this year’s trip through the merry old land of Oz.
Next year, she heads to Buffalo to study occupational therapy, but she said she’ll take lessons learned on the stage with her.
“You work really hard with a lot of people and persevere to the full outcome, that’s what I’ve taken from this. The harder you work, the better the show.”
Freshman Nicole Abato, 14, is at the other end of the continuum. A veteran of middle-school shows, she says this production has eased her into high school, helping her make new friends among upperclassmen.
Kristen Reilly, 17, a senior, plays Dorothy, a considerable upgrade from the time in sixth grade when she played a Munchkin.
“The people are different, but it’s fun. It’s like coming full circle,” she says, adding with a laugh: “I’ve also done ‘The Wiz,’ so all I need to do next is ‘Wicked,’” alluding to the Broadway hit that takes a different look at Oz.
Also in that Highlands Middle School cast six years ago was Jason Michel, 17, a senior who has also been similarly upgraded: He was a crow then; he’s the Scarecrow now.
“Throughout the years, you grow as a performer and a singer and gain the experience being around all the other talented people we have here. You evolve your performing skills.”
Michel is off to Cornell to study animal science next year. No word on if crows are in the curriculum.
Junior Rachel Morris, 16, plays the Tin Man, a role she sought.
“I thought I could get away with not dancing so well, because usually I’m a pretty stiff dancer,” she says sheepishly.
“The fact that he doesn’t have a heart is sad, but he does care for Dorothy and you can see that he does really have a heart, even if it isn’t physically there.”
Olivia Bratkovics, 16, a junior, plays the Cowardly Lion for full comic relief.
“I grew up watching the movie every day for three years, I think,” she says. “In the performance, I’m incorporating some aspects of the movie, like the voice, but I’m also making it my own character by making him a bit more dorky, a little more silly, a lot of falling down and having more fun with it.”
Sara Crane, 17, a senior, plays the Wicked Witch of the West, the piece’s heavy.
“She’s a very iconic character, so it’s definitely a challenge to portray her authentically and differently than the movie. You could easily portray the Witch as a one-sided evil woman who cackles a lot. It’s been hard to figure out the depth of her, but it’s a super fun role.”
The real challenge might be for Ella, Crane’s Shih-poo (a poodle and a Shih Tzu mix). She has to pretend not to like her owner.
“The Wizard of Oz” at White Plains High School: 7 p.m., Feb. 6, 7; 3 p.m., Feb. 8. $20, $5 students and seniors. 914-422-2234.
Here’s the Running Lines video I shot at White Plains. Enjoy: