Staff photo/Heather Spaulding From left to right: Emily Vogel as Toto; Eric Sabel as the Lion; Zac Fincher, as the Tinman; Wilson Loucks, as the Scarecrow; Jillian Urbach as Dorothy.

SJ Islanders are off to see the wizard

Theatergoers will be transported to the strange and wonderful world in the “Wizard of Oz” for the upcoming Friday Harbor High School play.

“It will have a very Tim Burton feel to it,” said director Jenni Merritt. “The costumes are not traditional, from the movie, they are pretty fun and crazy.”

The performance opens at 7:30 p.m., Jan. 19 at the San Juan Community Theatre and runs through the weekend, at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 20, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22. Tickets are available at the San Juan Community Theatre’s box office, priced at $16 for adults, $9 for students and $5 student rush, at the door.

For those unfamiliar with the story, the “Wizard of Oz” follows a girl, Dorothy, and her dog Toto, who, after being swept up by a tornado, find themselves in the land of Oz.

This will be Merritt’s first time directing a musical, although she has been the drama director at the Friday Harbor High and Middle School for the last three years and directed several plays during that period.

“I wanted to do a musical, the school has only ever done about two,” said Merritt. “The ‘Wizard of Oz’ sprung out at me because everyone knows the songs, and it’s just a really fun story.”

There are about 35 actors and 21 behind-the-scenes workers — nearly 60 students total — involved in the performance, ranging in age from about 12-18 — the largest age gap she has ever worked with. According to Merritt, the students have been very respectful and supportive of each other and are always asking questions.

“I love seeing them take charge,” Merritt said, adding that many of these students want to become involved in theater professionally, so they have been taking the show seriously. That doesn’t mean the students aren’t having fun.

“I’ve heard them singing the songs in the halls at school,” Merritt said, adding that one of the reasons the “Wizard of Oz” is so iconic is because of the music. The message the play carries — that no matter how bad things get, your friends and family matter most— also resonates with people and gives the story a warm fuzzy feeling.

The set itself is simple, according to Merritt, and while there won’t be flying monkeys per say, the troupe has several tricks up their sleeves. Most of the actors have four or five parts, making costume changes crazy.

Her goal throughout the performance has been to help the students hone their talents so they can see what they are truly capable of, and show the community what their kids are capable of too.

“I hope there is a strong turnout, that the community shows the kids they are cheering for them,” said Merritt.


  • Jillian Urbach: Dorothy
  • Emily Vogel: Toto
  • Wilson Loucks: Scarecrow
  • Zach Fincher: Tinman
  • Eric Sable: Lion
  • Claudio Ochoa: Professor Marvel/Oz
  • Isabella Brown: The Wicked Witch of the West
  • Chiara Power: Glinda
  • Zoe Steele: Aunt Em/Father Munchkin/Manicurist Ozian/Poppy/Jitterbug
  • Tawan Shaller: Uncle Henry/Polisher Ozian/Winkie
  • Matthew Rice: Zeke/General/Ozian
  • Alex McIntire: Hickory/Ozian/Winkie
  • Brandon Payne: Hunk/Ozian/Winkie
  • Ula Grace: Almira Gulch/Nikko/Ozian
  • Aida Must: Tree 3/Poppy/Winkie/Munchkin/Chorus/ Beautician Ozian
  • Allie Fleming: Tot Munchkin/Ozian/Poppy/Jitterbug
  • Alison Cole: Teacher Munchkin/ Beautician Ozian/Jitterbug/Poppy
  • Annemarie Ryan: Barrister Munchkin/Ozian/Snowflake/Chorus/Jitterbug
  • Ava Smith: Lead Jitterbug/Snowflake/Ozian/Tornado
  • Ayla Ridwan: Crow 1/Poppy/Jitterbug/Ozian/Tornado/Chorus
  • Dexter Prescott: Mayor Munchkin/Ozian/Winkie
  • Elsedora Arendt: Crow 3/Snowflake/Jitterbug/Tornado/ Manicurist Ozian/Chorus
  • Faith Embler: Lead Snowflake/Jitterbug/Tornado/Ozian
  • Henry Holt: Tough Munchkin/Ozian/Winkie
  • Inga-C Harold: Tot Munchkin/Ozian/Snowflake/Winkie
  • Joely Loucks: Tree 1/Beautician Ozian/Jitterbug/Munchkin/Chorus
  • Joshua May: Tough Munchkin/Ozian/Winkie
  • Lucy Urbach: Tree 1/Munchkin/Poppy/Palace Guard/Jitterbug
  • Luke Fincher: Tough Munchkin/Polisher Ozian/Winkie
  • Olivia Brown: Braggart Munchkin/Jitterbug/Ozian/Poppy
  • Presley Clark: Crow 2/Poppy/Jitterbug/Tornado/Manicurist Ozian/Chorus
  • Robin Taylor: Tot Munchkin/Ozian/Winkie/Poppy
  • Talisen Kilpatrick-Boe: Coroner Munchkin/Polisher Ozian/Winkie


Staff photo/Heather Spaulding The Lion, Eric Sabel, meets with Dorothy, Jillian Urbach.

Staff photo/Heather Spaulding Dorothy, Jillian Urbach, reveals the Wizard.

Staff photo/Heather Spaulding The Jitterbugs dance in the woods of Oz.

Staff photo/Heather Spaulding The Lion, Eric Sabel, receives his courage.