Few films resonate with as many generations as The Wizard of Oz.
Almost everyone can recall watching the 1939 classic as a child, or even as an adult.
Well, Wizard of Oz fans are in luck – you can relive those childhood memories when the arena spectacular comes to Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 April.
Just like Harvest Rain’s Grease – The Arena Experience, the Wizard of Oz iteration will feature a mass ensemble of more than 500 young performers who will play munchkins, poppies, Emerald City citizens, winkie and jitterbugs throughout the show.
After an exhaustive nationwide search, newcomer Carly Bettinson will play the coveted role of Dorothy, originated by Judy Garland.
At only 19 years old, Bettinson is a recent graduate of the Brisbane Academy of Musical Theatre.
She’s no stranger to arena productions, having performed in Grease last year.
“I was just pinching myself the whole time that I got to be part of such a huge production,” she says.
“I never dreamed that a year later I’d be leading the principal cast of a major arena show. It really is a dream come true.”
Joining Bettinson on her journey down the Yellow Brick Road is Chris Geoghegan in the role of Scarecrow, Michael Nunn as the Tinman and Josh Whitten as the Lion.
Aurelie Roque plays Glinda the Good Witch, while Bil Heit strikes fear in the hearts of children all over Oz as the Wicked Witch of the West.
The all-new arena production is directed by Tim O’Connor and choreographed by Callum Mansfield.
“Our vision for this production is quite different to the Oz we’ve seen on stage before,” O’connor says.
“The original 1939 film is one of my favourite movies of all time, but we don’t just want to replicate the movie on stage. Playing in the arena gives us the chance to full reimagine the land of Oz, so our interpretation is a bit grungier and moodier, a little less pantomime and a little more steampunk.
“The technology we’re using to bring Oz to life for this production is state-of-the-art and totally breathtaking. There’s nine-metre-tall LED screens wrapping around the entire set playing wall-to-wall animations throughout the whole show so we really will feel transported into the fantastical land of Oz.”