Student Star: Just call her Dorothy

Sophomore+Lisa+Gnielinski+is+currently+starring+in+The+Wizard+of+Oz+as+Dorothy+Gale+at+the+Moonlight+Amphitheatre.+Purchase+tickets+at+the+Moonlight+Amphitheatres+website+to+catch+one+of+her+shows+this+weekend+10%2F28-30.

Nikki Iyer

Sophomore Lisa Gnielinski is currently starring in “The Wizard of Oz” as Dorothy Gale at the Moonlight Amphitheatre. Purchase tickets at the Moonlight Amphitheatre’s website to catch one of her shows this weekend 10/28-30.

Nikki Iyer, News Editor

1,600 people. Waiting. Watching.

It may be a difficult feat to perform to so many people, but sophomore Lisa Gnielinski makes it look easy.

The Swiss-German immigrant is currently starring as Dorothy Gale in the hit musical The Wizard of Oz at the Moonlight Amphitheatre. The production was set to show six nights, and with two nights to go, Gnielinski is anxious and excited to meet each different crowd.

“The nerves appear the most right before the show starts when the audience is introduced to the show. However for me personally once the show starts and I am performing on stage I am in my own world and all I think the entire time is how much I love performing! These nerves always make an appearance right before the show and it never really gets easier, but I have learned to look over those nerves and to just focus on other things,” said Gnielinski.

With a raw talent for the trade, Gnielinski took her first musical theater class when she lived in Switzerland at 10 years old, and has pursued theatre since. A rigorous training schedule and dedicated mindset has paved the way for her young success.

“We began rehearsals [for this musical] at the end of August for about 4 hours, 3 times a week. Last week was tech week and it was extremely intense. I was there every single day for at least six hours rehearsing; I loved it!” said Gnielinski.

The amphitheatre is using sets and costumes from the original Madison Square Garden Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz, and is directed by Broadway actor and eminent director Geno Carr.

I have moved around a lot in my life, leaving many friends and family behind. This was always very difficult for me. I never really felt at “home” anywhere so I feel very connected to Dorothy at the beginning of the story when she yearns about a place that she can call her own”

— Gnielinski

The actors of this specific production are all 17 years or younger, yet have surpassed all expectations of the limits of youth. The timeless nature of the musical and the impressive cast has attracted an immense audience, enough to fill much of the 2,000 audience capacity. Opening night sold 1,600 tickets, breaking youth production records at the amphitheatre. Inspired by Moonlight’s past productions, Gnielinski has been working hard for the opportunity to perform for such a crowd.

“Over the summer I saw their production of Beauty and the Beast and A Chorus Line and immediately fell in love with the venue. I thought – wow, it would be amazing to perform on that stage,” said Gnielinski.

Filling the shoes of original actor Judy Garland isn’t easy, but Gnielinski does a pretty great job at it. She feels very connected to Dorothy and has brought the character to life. Living in three different countries, Switzerland, Germany, and America, in just 15 years, Gnielinski relates to Dorothy’s desire for a better, beautiful home.

“I have moved around a lot in my life, leaving many friends and family behind. This was always very difficult for me. I never really felt at “home” anywhere so I feel very connected to Dorothy at the beginning of the story when she yearns about a place that she can call her own,” said Gnielinski.

Due to her lengthy last name, Gnielinski decided to create a stage name. Inspired by her mother’s maiden name, she is going by Anna Lisa Sommer for the production.

At SJHHS, Gnielinski will also be starring in the iconic Legally Blonde as Elle Woods. Make sure to catch Gnielinski’s last shows at the Moonlight Amphitheatre on October 28th, 29th, or 30th at 7:30 p.m.