Eme Barker auditioned for her first theater role as a seventh grader at Osage Trail Middle School last year. A novice, she won the role of Lucy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

Eme Barker auditioned for her first theater role as a seventh grader at Osage Trail Middle School last year. A novice, she won the role of Lucy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

So when the time came to decide what summer school classes she wanted to take, a theater class was one of her first choices.

“I love theater, and I love singing and acting,” said the soon-to-be eighth grader who plays the role of Dorothy in the summer school production of “The Wizard of Oz.” “I never thought I would get one of the lead roles. I really thought it would go to a high schooler.”

Jeannie Hutter, theater teacher at Fort Osage High School, said more than 40 students from upcoming seventh graders through seniors in high school are taking the class this summer. “The Wizard of Oz” production is a culmination of what the students have been learning and working on the past four weeks.

The show can be seen at 8 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. today at the Fort Osage High School Performing Arts Center, 2101 N. Twyman Road.

The free performance is open to the public.

“I have two different goals through this class,” she said. “I want the high school kids to get more experience. A lot of them have had their first big role in this show, so it is nice to see them develop. For the middle school kids, I want them to grow the program. I want them to get involved at a young age so they will want to become involved in theater once they get to the high school.”

Brayden Shelley, a soon-to-be junior at Fort Osage High School, plays the scarecrow. He said it is his biggest role to date, and he is excited for the new experience.

“This is my first lead role, so it has been very different for me from the productions I have done in the past,” he said. “I wanted to get more experience acting for future productions. That way, I can maybe get even bigger roles. I really enjoy theater. I like the rush of performing and knowing people are watching you on stage.”

Kai Chapin, a sophomore next year at the high school, plays the Tin Man. Last year’s production of “Alice in Wonderland” was his first audition, so playing the role of the Tin Man, he said, has been quite an accomplishment.

“It is hard because I can’t really move and the screws (on the costume) are always falling out,” he said. “But I have always liked acting, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for me. I have had a lot of fun in this class.”

Trenton Smith, a soon-to-be sophomore who is playing the Cowardly Lion, said taking the summer school class was a way to stay active this summer.

“I would have been really bored this summer, and I thought it would be a chance for me to improve my acting and get more experience,” he said. “Putting a musical together in such a short amount of time has been difficult, but it was all been worth it. It is great to entertain people, so this has been a great experience for me.”