Off to see the wizard, but it surely’s a primary for some 

Kellee-Rose Hand as Dorothy with Toto (aka Cairn terrier Livvy). Picture: Cathy Breen

All people is aware of about Dorothy’s journey down the Yellow Brick Highway to the Emerald Metropolis – or do they, wonders arts editor HELEN MUSA.

WHO is the star of “The Wizard of Oz”? – Dorothy or Toto? 

Theoretically, it ought to be the plucky little lady blown away to the Land of Oz in a twister and best-known to most of us for Judy Garland’s portrayal within the 1939 movie model of Frank Baum’s 1900 novel.

However, taking into account the outdated stage proscription in opposition to performing with youngsters and canines, it’s a good guess that the lovable Cairn terrier, Toto, will get simply as a lot applause when Ickle Pickle Productions revive the musical model of the present at Belconnen Theatre in early January. 

Director Justin Watson couldn’t be extra happy. He’s achieved the present earlier than in 2007, and given the necessity for a little bit of post-covid optimism, he reckons it’s simply concerning the excellent household present.

Ickle Pickle has been round since late 2005 and has achieved greater than 40 productions of reveals resembling “The Little Mermaid”, “Seussical the Musical” and “Magnificence and the Beast” involving greater than 2000 performers, though the pandemic compelled a quick hiatus.

Watson was alarmed to search out out that when his five-year-old daughter Jasmine, who’ll play a Munchkin within the present, turned as much as her college dress-up day as Dorothy, classmates have been confused as a result of she didn’t appear like Dorothy the Dinosaur. He’s decided to set this proper and introduce a beloved present to a brand new era.

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Though busy along with his day job on the Nationwide Gallery, he’s discovered time to assemble a big, cross-sectional forged. 

He’s obtained some star energy – Meaghan Stewart, who simply gained a Canberra Critics Circle award for enjoying Eliza Doolittle in “Pygmalion”, for example, is enjoying the Cowardly Lion. She initially auditioned for the Depraved Witch of the West, however was disillusioned to search out that she had no songs – Lion will get two. Skilled Canberra actor Debra Byrne will play the Depraved Witch and that’s a plum function, too. 

Watson is especially proud that he’s obtained a number of younger Ickle Pickle performers who at the moment are moving into lead roles. 

One such is Dorothy herself, performed by Kellee-Rose Hand. She’s been with them for 5 years and, though she sang in Philo’s “Jersey Boys”, that is her first lead function.

One other one is Jack Morton enjoying Watson’s favorite character, Scarecrow, who thinks he doesn’t have a mind. Morton’s been with the corporate since 2015. 

Aleesha Boye, who performs the nice witch Glinda, is a 12-year veteran of the corporate. 

Samuel Dietz, who performs Tin Man, the one who thinks he doesn’t have a coronary heart (as within the tune) has an exquisite singing voice, Watson says, and has performed leads.

Kristofer Patston-Gill, who performs the Wizard is a primary timer with Ickle Pickle however, with a background in movie work, “ought to deliver gravitas to what’s a really curious character”.

Making all of it occur are choreographer Jodi Hammond, knowledgeable dancer who has been with them since 2017, Jen Hinton of Queanbeyan Gamers fame, becoming a member of them as musical director for the primary time, and theatre id Ian Croker who’s busy concocting a suitably magical set.

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Watson is utilizing the variation by the Royal Shakespeare Firm, identified to be the closest stage model to the movie, with all of the songs you’ll know, resembling “Observe the Yellow Brick Highway/You’re Off to See the Wizard”, “If I Solely Had a Coronary heart” and, in fact, “Over the Rainbow”.

“It’s very true to the unique, but it surely’s a 2022 model,” Watson says, so in an effort to create a optimistic function mannequin, we’ve up to date the textual content to take out sexist or racist remarks.”

And what concerning the little star, Toto? 

There’s each probability that she (sure, and the unique movie one was a she, too) will steal the present, and Livvy, slightly Cairn terrier like the unique movie star, is already exhausting at work three days per week studying to reply to Kellee-Rose Hand as Dorothy. Toto has to run throughout the stage into her arms and it wouldn’t do if she ran to the incorrect particular person, so Watson has consulted dog-trainers and the remainder is apply. 

And the place does Livvy come from? She’s been loaned to Ickle Pickle by the Emerald Metropolis Cairn Terriers breeders in Queanbeyan.

In 2007 additionally they loaned slightly canine and it tickles Ickle Pickle that they’ve been capable of do it once more.

“The Wizard of Oz”, Belconnen Theatre, January 6 to 21

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Ian Meikle, editor