Pine River-Backus High School's annual musical follows the yellow brick road with Dorothy Gale played by senior Katie Hanneken.

Hanneken gave up her senior year in volleyball to take on the lead role.

“I think this is where my talents lie,” Hanneken said. “On the volleyball team I really like to cheer and that's about it. I like practicing, but I think I would have been too scared to try attempting what they do now and how amazing those guys are. I know my talents are singing, acting. I'm not afraid to be in front of people. I can memorize lines and I just love to be in plays in general. I knew I wanted to keep my talents here.”

She gave up on volleyball so she could put everything into being Dorothy. In the end, it paid off.

“I did originally go for Dorothy, so I'm really happy I got that. I think one of the biggest reasons was this year I decided to quit volleyball. I'm still managing volleyball but I wanted to focus on the play. I talked to Jen (Anderson, director), and I think I did really good in the audition. I went and I got Dorothy.”

Hanneken is no stranger to PR-B plays. She was Kelsi in "High School Musical" and both Maureen and Queenie in "Honk!" She also has a fondness for ensemble, and has been in ensemble in "The Little Mermaid," "Cinderella" and other productions.

“Some people think the lead roles are most important; but honestly, I think learning ensemble is one of the hardest things to do,” Hanneken said. “You're on stage all the time learning a bunch of different things and a bunch of different songs. It was really good to have a mix in between an ensemble role and a lead role.”

Hanneken got started in theater thanks to encouragement from Anderson, who was also her speech coach.

“She encouraged me to try out for the play,” Hanneken said. “I had always wanted to because I love plays. I was in volleyball then so it was pretty hard for me to balance both, but Jen told me she accepts people in other sports too. That's when I tried it. I loved it.”

Hanneken thinks it will be a challenge as a 17 year old to act 14, but she has inspiration right at home.

“I have little sisters around the age that Dorothy was and just the little amounts of sass they have," Hanneken said. "I can see them saying those things in real life as I read through the script. I kind of channel them. I've been hanging out with them a lot more so I'm able to learn a few things. I use them as inspiration."

After graduation, Hanneken plans to attend Black Hills State University in South Dakota. She won't major in theater, but the school allows non-theater majors to participate in its plays. She also hopes to go for theater outside of the university.

"A couple years ago in Montana there was a theater in Yellowstone and they have college kids throughout the summer who come out and perform three plays throughout the summer," Hanneken said. "Then the theater is closed for the rest of the year. I'm hoping to be able to do that one summer. I don't care what role or play it is. I just really like the theater and would like to try it out."

PR-B students will stage "The Wizard of Oz" in honor of the show's 80th anniversary.



'The Wizard of Oz'

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15-16, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17.

Where: Pine River-Backus High School gym.

Tickets: $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, free for children 5 and under. Tickets will be available a half-hour before showtime.

Directors: Director, Jen Anderson; vocal director, Kate Davis; orchestra director, Ben Kinser; student director, Tessily Gregory.

Crew: Stage manager, Jacque Norman; student stage manager, Tiara Cranell; technicians, Mike Shetka and Brent Passarella; costumer, Jen Anderson; physicality coach, Ben Gordon; choreographer, Rachel Wheeler.

Cast: Dorothy, Katie Hanneken; Aunt Em/Glinda, Kansas Tilbury; Uncle Henry/Guard, Miles DeSanto; Zeke/Cowardly Lion, Miqaella Williams; Hickory/Tin Man, Charles Humphrey; Hunk/Scarecrow, Cody Deplazes; Professor Marvel/Oz, Evan Richter; Munchkin Mayor/ensemble/dance captain, Brianna Butricks; Nikko/ensemble, Olivia Anderson.

Featured ensemble: Emma Gearns, Otis Gregory, Skyler Rugroden, Keylah Kendrick.

Children's ensemble: Ella Dahl, Claire Lundstrom, Adelheid Gregory, Eli Shamp, LeeAnn Wynn, Peyton Mongan, Aubree Wirtz, Myah Reuper, Kenzlee Sawyer.