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PS 207 kids not in Kansas anymore: Students stage adaptation of ‘The Wizard of Oz’

The Land of Oz: The Scarecrow, played by Cassie Bunnell, pleads with Nora Browne’s Dorothy in The Fillmore Academy Drama Club’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” on Jan. 19.
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They were off to see the wizard of Marine Park!

Students at PS 207 on Fillmore Avenue showed off their theatrical talent during their rendition of “The Wizard of Oz” on Jan. 19 — and theatrics came naturally to this year’s cast, according to their director.

“They have very good instincts with their costumes and what scenes come next,” said Kim Simek.

Around 30 students between grades six and eight took part in the show, which drew an enthusiastic audience of at least 400. The parents and younger students in the packed crowd loved seeing the iconic film come to life on the stage — especially when the students sang.

“There was roaring applause for many songs,” said Simek. “It was standing room only, which was really exciting.”

The Fillmore Academy Drama Club at PS 207 puts on shows every year, and Millennium Development, a Bergen Beach-based organization that supports after school programs for youth, sponsored the Jan. 19 show. The students’ supervisors for the play believe theater helps kids build confidence and express themselves.

“It allows them to bring the words on paper to life, to build confidence,” said arts director Antoinette Spada. “It’s a time of no judgment where they can express themselves.”

The students kept faithful to the story of the original film, but added a song known as the “Jitterbug Song,” where they dressed up as bugs and danced, Spada said.

“It came as a surprise for everyone,” she said. “It was a beautiful, big dance number with bright costumes.”

Spada said she hopes kids who are passionate about acting will continue with it in their years after elementary school.

“I tell them don’t let people tell them not to do something because money isn’t involved,” she said. “When you believe in what you do, anything is possible.”

The plays at PS 207 also bring students from different grades together, said Ellen Browne, whose daughter, seventh-grader Nora, played Dorothy.

“She made new friends with sixth and eighth graders she wouldn’t normally interact with,” she said. “There’s a lot of work involved, but also chances to socialize in a safe environment.”

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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