A beloved classic will be given a modern twist by Townsville’s Props Youth Theatre when first-time Director Abbie Wakeham takes the reins of a new staging of the Wizard of Oz, adapted by Todd Barty.
Abbie will lead a new generation of young actors in performing the well-known classic, but warns the story may not unfold exactly as you’d expect.
“It’s quite a bit different from the film,” said Abbie. “Todd has written this adaptation from the series of books by L. Frank Baum so audiences will need to come with an open mind and be ready to have their expectations challenged a little.”
While people are typically most familiar with the 1939 film adaptation starring Judy Garland, many may not realise that Baum had written a total of 14 books exploring the Land of Oz – the first published in 1900 and the 14th in 1919. Upon his death that same year, Baum’s publishers delegated a further 21 sequels to his successor Ruth Plumly Thompson.
That provides an awful lot of fodder for Abbie and Todd to reassemble!
“Things like the witches – there’s just the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch in the film, but Todd has incorporated all of them from the books,” Abbie said.
“Locasta (played by Levi Kenway) who is the good which north watches over Gillikin Country where the munchkins live. She is a blustering, eccentric aunty figure of the play. Then we have Languidere (Tiana Jankovic) who is our resident Wicked Witch of the West. The character Languidere is borrowed from the originals books and is not to be mistaken for the green witch we all know from the original movie. She is a spoilt and outrageously wicked princess, with very cutting insults. Then we have Glinda (Kate Greet) the Good Witch of the South. She is extremely glamorous and wise.
“Also – the shoes! We’ve copped some feedback about the shoes on the poster being silver, but that’s actually true to the book! They’re red in the film because it was made just as colour television was coming in and MGM wanted to show off how great colour could be on film, but we’ve stuck to the original.”
Abbie said it’s not all about adhering to tradition though.
“We have taken some liberties in some other places – like casting a male actor as one of the Witches. We were keen to break some rules where we could and that one definitely works well.”
Be enchanted by Props Youth Theatre’s The Fabulous Wizard of Oz at Full Throttle Theatre 4-7 July, 2018.