‘Wizard of Oz’ cast follows the yellow brick road to performing arts awards


“Wizard of Oz” cast Kyra Fowler (Toto), Aden Williams (Scarecrow), Katherine Finger (Dorothy), and Matthew Qualseth (Tin Man), surround Tranq Queral (Lion) as he performs his solo “King of the Forest.”

Hilary Lawson, Staff Reporter

After preparing for 16 weeks, the drama department wrapped up the school year with the show, “The Wizard of Oz.”

“I thought it was an amazing show,” drama director Robyn Baker said. “All of our kids shined.”

The Omaha Performing Arts Nebraska High School Theater Academy felt similarly, and awarded the production with the honor of Best Ensemble and Backstage Excellence. Students Avari Geppert and Phoenix Nehls were awarded for Best Supporting Actors.

When asked about earning the award, Geppert, who played the Wicked Witch and Gulch, said, “I was really shocked when I first found out. I won the same award last year, and I didn’t think I’d be able to get it again,” she said. “It was really shocking and exciting and it made me feel really confident about my acting skills.”

Nehls mentioned that she and Geppert were “absolutely ecstatic.”

“It meant a lot that all that hard work paid off in a way that people enjoyed,” Nehls said.

The senior actress described how it felt performing her last show at Millard South.

“It was, in fact, very emotional,” Nehls said. “I really tried to keep it in, but it was very, very difficult. On one hand, it’s kind of the end of my high school career,” she said. “But my sister did theater, so it was also kind of the end of my childhood in a weird, symbolic way,” she said.

Another senior described their feelings after performing their last high school show. 

Matthew Qualseth, who played Tin Man in the show said, “I’m really going to miss the trio dynamic I had between me and my friend Aden Williams and my friend Tranq Queral,” he said. “Especially in the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ because we were Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion; so we just all meshed together really well as actors.”

Williams, who played Scarecrow, said, “I love performance, and I love being up on stage and brightening people’s day. So I’m gonna miss that performance aspect.” He added, “This show was a ton of fun. It’s been the biggest show I’ve been a part of at Millard South. It was super fun to get to meet a lot of new people and see some people that are younger in the department right now that are gonna grow into amazing actors and actresses in the future.”

Queral, who performed the role of Zeke the Cowardly Lion, and Katherine Finger, who played Dorothy, also brought up how they would miss the people most of all in drama.

Some of the seniors have future plans in theater, while others aren’t exactly sure where the road after high school will lead them to. Although the time was short for some of them, the actors showed no regrets joining drama.

“You never know who you’re gonna meet or what you’re going to be able to do and be capable of,” Finger said. “It’s definitely an experience that I don’t regret in the slightest, and it’s something that I think everybody should partake in,” she said.

Qualseth added, “I think we have one of the strongest theater departments. It’s really sad to say goodbye, but it’s given me a lot, and I’m very happy that I was able to be a part of it for the time that I was granted.”

“This show really showed me that even no matter what size role you get, everyone’s giving their 100 percent effort, whether it be just an ensemble, or even tech or pre-production,” Queral said. He added, “I actually wish I had more time in drama and wish that I made that decision sooner and wasn’t so on the fence about it.”