As a parent and Ryonet employee, my life often revolves around the two vibrant worlds of family and screen printing. These realms beautifully intersected recently with 'Wizard of Oz the Musical,' performed by the talented theater students of McDaniel High School in NE Portland, Oregon. As a screen printer and Remarketer at Ryonet, I'm lucky to have access to state-of-the-art printing equipment, which was exactly what the kids at McDaniel High School needed to pull off one of their most successful fundraisers. Together, we printed 100 tees on our ROQ Automatic, while my child, Willow, a student and theater member, screen printed all the t-shirt backs on a manual Riley Hopkins 250. This blog isn’t just about a high school musical – it's a tale of screen printing for the community and being united by a passion for the arts.
THE SHOW MUST GO ONThe journey to the Emerald City was not without its challenges. The musical, originally scheduled for November, faced an unexpected hurdle: a disctrict wide teachers' strike calling for better working conditions and safety in schools. The strike resulted in a month-long hiatus, delaying rehearsals and casting a shadow of uncertainty over the production. Willow said, “The strike affected the musical greatly. We realized we weren't able to hold rehearsals so we had to improvise and use shared, public spaces to hold student-run rehearsals. I think it gave us a lot more time to work on our acting but by the time the strike was over we were all very ready to be done.” However, like the determined characters in Oz, the students returned with renewed vigor, dedicating themselves to extended rehearsal sessions after school. Their commitment was a testament to the power of perseverance and the transformative role of arts in education and was truly impressive.
TEAMWORK AND TALENT
In the midst of all the hard work and dedication, Willow and I found our own special way to pitch in. We were given the exciting job of printing 100 t-shirts for the musical's fundraiser, and we jumped right in with a large crew at Ryonet. Major thanks to Colin Huggins for sharing his expertise in artwork prep for printing and helping us run the press. We got to work on our ROQ auto, pouring our hearts into each and every shirt, making sure they captured the essence of the musical. It was like a beautiful blend of colors, creativity, and the latest tech. Willow really shone through, showing off their natural talent for screen printing by leading the charge on printing the backs of the shirts with our manual press. This wasn't just another task for us, it was a fun moment where our family's passion for the arts and my career came together in the most amazing way.
BRINGING OZ TO LIFE WITH AUTHENTIC TOUCHESThe performance itself was truly magical. The school pulled out all the stops, including live dog volunteers from the Oregon Humane Society to play Toto, which added an exciting and authentic touch to the show. Willow mentioned that “So much time and work went into these sets. All are masterfully hand-painted by our paint crew. And each set is built by our construction team!” The inclusion of students from local middle schools as Munchkins and other characters enriched the sense of community involvement. A major highlight was the flying performances, where students, trained by professionals, soared across the stage with harnesses, bringing a magical dimension to the show. Rory Henderson, who played Dorothy, reflected, “I just loved the friends I made, and learning all the lines for this show was the biggest hurdle I’ve ever climbed.”
FUNDRAISING SUCCESS WITH SCREEN PRINTING
The shirts we printed had their own starring role in the event. Willow shared that, “When we first showed off the t-shirts, there was a lot of shock and excitement. Everyone was very happy with the design and quality of the t-shirts.” Each t-shirt, worn by theater kids, audience members, and supporters alike, served as a visual testament to the community's collective effort to overcome challenges and celebrate the arts. Rory commented, “All the kids loved the color of the tees, especially with everyone's names in silver ink on the back. Plus, they're truly comfy shirts.” The students were able to sell these tees, with all profits going to support the McDaniel High School Theater Program. The tees were more than just merchandise. They stood as symbols of support, unity, and the community’s commitment to the arts. Coming soon for McDaniel Theaters' productions in 2024 is Three Musketeers, Stew, and student-directed one-acts in the spring!
A TAPESTRY OF MEMORIES
Reflecting on this experience, it’s clear that the "Wizard of Oz the Musical" was more than a school performance - it brought together students, teachers, and families, overcoming obstacles and celebrating the unifying power of the arts. Willow shared a fun memory, “We had so many good times with this show…the live dogs had a tendency to try and walk off stage when Dorothy was holding their leashes. That was hilarious!” For Willow and me, it was a cherished opportunity to blend our personal and professional worlds, creating memories that extend beyond the stage and the screen printing shop.
In the end, this story is a reminder of how art, in all its forms, can bring people together, fostering resilience, creativity, and an unbreakable sense of community. We hope this blog serves as a reminder to get involved with your community and help support your local art programs by printing tees or simply attending performances! Major thanks to all the staff at Ryonet that helped pull this off!