CLINTON — In the face of sickness and an impending winter storm, Clinton High School Middle School students practiced Thursday for their annual theater production at Clinton High School.

Maddie Phelps read the role of Dorothy for an absent Juliana Clark who was home with the flu but was expected to take the stage for Friday night’s show.

Other cast members talked about their roles before Thursday’s rehearsal.

Elle Lonergan, though in her first year at the middle school, is no stranger to the stage, performing with the Clinton Area Showboat Theater in “Oliver.” “I’ve always liked acting and singing,” said Lonergan.

After reading a few lines and singing a little, Lonergan landed the role of the Good Witch of the North. “I was really excited,” Lonergan said.

“I just like the way she is,” said Lonergan, dressed in a fluffy pink gown. “She’s happy. That’s a fun role to play.”

Angalina Taylor, the Wicked Witch, has appeared in several plays. “I love being on stage and having all the attention on me,” the seventh-grader said. She feels happy when she walks out on stage.

But she can’t be happy as the Wicked Witch. “It’s fun because I’m a very gentle and kind person with my peers,” said Taylor. Teachers ask how she can be a witch when she’s such a nice person.

The role takes practice, Taylor said. The screeching voice familiar to fans of the play is not easy to produce. “It took me, like, three months out of the five we’ve been doing this.”

Taylor performed on the Showboat in “Oliver” and in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and had a role in the Clinton High School production of “Shrek.”

The Scarecrow is seventh-grader Lucas Asay. He’s had many roles in the few years he’s been on stage. His favorite roles, he said, were Oliver in the musical by the same name and Charlie in the middle school’s production of “Willie Wonka Jr.”

As the Scarecrow, Asay has to become a bundle of straw without a brain. “Because he doesn’t have a brain, you have to access a different side of you,” Asay said. He has to act “wonky.”

He also has to fall down a lot. “That was definitely a big thing for me. I’m wearing kneepads right now,” Asay said Thursday.

Mason Luckritz, an eighth-grader, is the Cowardly Lion. “I’ve only done two plays,” Luckritz said. In last year’s “Willie Wonka Jr.” he played Grandpa Joe.

Luckritz took part in the Showboat’s summer camp to gain acting experience.

The biggest challenge for Luckritz in the role of the Lion is playing scared, he said. “Normally I’m not scared of a lot of things.”

“This is my third year doing drama as a whole,” said Marcus Steen, the Tin Man. In sixth grade he performed in “Night Under the Lights,” a show made up of snippets of Broadway shows.

The following year he played Augustus Gloop in “Willie Wonka Jr.” The Tin Man is quite different, Steen said. “He’s kind and smooth and not as greedy.”

Each new play brings a new character to master. “That’s the fun of it,” Steen said.

Seventh-grader Grant Gray’s acting debut was as Mr. Bucket in “Willie Wonka Jr” last year. This year he’s two people: Professor Marvel and the great and powerful Oz.

“As Oz I’m a super confident person,” Gray said. The professor is more understated.

“For Oz, I use a super low voice, and I’m way louder,” Gray said. “I have to make everyone think I’m magic in both of them.

“I don’t have to sing this year,” Gray said. “I wish I did. I liked it.”

His biggest challenge was learning the Wizard’s big words like vernacular and conspicuous, and outdated words such as effrontery and fodder. “It took me forever to do scene 14,” he said.

The show was to open Friday at 7 p.m. at Clinton High School’s Vernon Cook Theater. In the event of cancellation due to weather, the performance will be rescheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m.

A second show is set for Saturday at 7 p.m.