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70 kids try out to be Munchkins, Flying Monkeys in Wizard of Oz

VERO BEACH – Approximately 70 kids turned out to the Vero Beach High School Performing Arts Center on a dreary, chilly Saturday afternoon. They auditioned in hopes of being among the chosen few to play Munchkins, Poppies, and Flying Monkeys for the school’s upcoming performance of The Wizard of Oz.

“I’ve never seen it,” said 12-year-old Kristopher Pope of the classic film starring Judy Garland. “Only bits and parts.” The response came after Choreographer Andrew Currie asked the aspiring thespians who had seen the movie.

The 3-hour auditions started at 1 p.m. with a quick choreography tutorial.

“Take you booger finger and point it down,” instructed Currie, eliciting a series of “ewws” and giggles.

Currie counted off the beat to Karen Wiggins, the Performing Arts Center’s accompanist, who started to play “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead.”

“That was a little bright,” Currie said to Wiggins after the rehearsal, meaning the tempo was a bit fast.

“I’m trying to get us warm!” Wiggins replied as a couple girls rubbed their arms for warmth on stage.

The kids were later broken into groups of 10 to perform the short bit of choreography they had learned so Director Dee Rose and others could evaluate them.

Only 20 of the 70 children would get parts in the upcoming performance, playing Munchkins, Poppies or Flying Monkeys.

Backstage, Kristopher Pope said he’d like to play either a Munchkin or a Flying Monkey, though he’d prefer the monkey.

“I like to act,” he said, adding that it’s in keeping with his “split personality. I’m pretty much pretty weird.”

Eleven-year-old Ashley Rutz said she came out to audition because she really likes the movie and wants to be a part of it.

“I want to be a monkey because they’re cool,” she said.

Naythen Morin, 9, said he found out about the auditions from an old music teacher, whom he’d like to reconnect with through the performance.

Also, Morin said he wanted to “get out and have some fun.”

The Vero Beach High School Drama Department will be presenting The Wizard of Oz from Feb. 19 through 21 at the Performing Arts Center.

The performance is produced with special arrangement through Tams-Witmark Music Library and with music direction by Gregory Harris.

Tickets are $10 for the upper level and $12 for the lower level and are on sale now at the Box Office.  Call (772) 564-5537 to order tickets.

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