HAODS performers are following the yellow-brick road for a major new production of The Wizard of Oz, directed by Yvonne Chadwell.
Performances will be at The Capitol, Horsham, from April 14-18 – an interesting one to manage what with two dogs, more than 30 munchkins, a big cast and various brooms that burst into flame.
“We are doing it fairly traditionally,” Yvonne says. “I think the difference between the film and the stage production is you can’t do all the wizardry you can do on film so that means we have got to be creative!
“Really, we just wanted to do something different as a company. We are always looking for something a little bit different.
“We have got a group of children, and we always like to involve them as well. Recently we have done Oliver! and The Sound of Music. This is now another chance for the youngsters of Horsham to get involved. We have got 36 – two teams of 18. We start from the age of seven and go up to 15. The children are munchkins, though some of the adults are munchkins as well. And some of the children are flying monkeys – though we are not flying them. That would be too expensive, and you have got to think about health and safely as well!”
There are also 37 adults in the cast – a grand total of 71.
“But it is going fine. I have my moments! The grown-ups as well as the children sometimes get told to be quiet, but everyone is great to work with.
“You can enjoy the story on all sorts of levels. It’s something close to panto, but the actual books are quite dark if you go back to them.
“But for me, the message is about family and how to make it work.
“It’s also about having heart, brain and courage, which you have with the tin man, the scarecrow and the lion. It’s just really about the human characteristics and how you should remember them, that you should remember that whatever happens, you can actually make a difference.
“It’s also very funny. We are doing the RSC version, which is slightly more complicated. We do set fire to the scarecrow, and we do have a witch on a broomstick that spits fire – hopefully! Some of the lines have been slightly tweaked, and it has got its dark side, but it is great fun.”
Of course, the success in recent years of the Wizard of Oz spin-off show Wicked has added to the attraction to many: “It’s a bit like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. They each stand on their own, but together you can see the differences.
“Wicked takes some of the characters and develops them in a different way. But we will have all the well-known songs and all the well-known characters.
“We have got the dancers, and we have got the pyrotechnics. The only thing we haven’t got is flying people.”
But the challenge, as Yvonne says, whether you are in Horsham or in the West End, is that you have still got to get people to come along to the show: “You have got to get the bums on seats, but I think as an operatic society, we have got a good reputation. And we have got a great theatre. I have worked in all kinds of theatres as a performer and a director, and we are very lucky to have the theatre we have got here. If we can be part of getting people to come to the theatre there, then that is all part of the journey.”
Tickets cost £15 to £17. Call the box office on 01403 750220 or visit www.thecapitolhorsham.com.
Find out more about HAODS at www.haods.co.uk.