Hello world! By the time you’re reading this we will only have ten days left before opening night of The Wizard of Oz at the Arts and Culture Center! We’re going to be adding a Saturday matinee (2pm, Saturday October 27), so if you’re looking to bring children or people who would rather not attend a nighttime performance—we have got a show for you!
Also, this just in: we have a stage manager! Her name is Olivia and she’s from England and she’s lovely and we’re so lucky to have her. She is nice, attentive, and really good at keeping us on track; which is no simple task. Thank you for joining us, Olivia, and welcome aboard the S.S. Friendship!
Things are starting to get really exciting in the merry old land of Oz. We’ve started to see glimpses of costume fittings creating cuddly cowardly lions, chic greeny Ozians, and impish wicked witches. Larger than life gates to the Emerald City, wagons for Kansas, and tornado-riding witch-squishing houses are just some of the many wonders beginning to emerge from our set build last weekend. We’re all growing more confident in ourselves and our characters as the big chorus songs and dance numbers come together with more precision and fluidity, and I’m really hopeful that the shows we put up on October 26 and 27 will be just as wonderful as the time we had putting them together.
Nonetheless, I’ve got to admit that it’s a bit terrifying to realize we’re going to be opening the show in ten days and we all have a lot of work to do before we’ll be ready to perform! Apparently time really does fly when you’re having fun. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we all met for the first time in the basement of the First United Church to stumble through “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,”? I could not calm down and stop from shaking every time I had to sing a solo, from fidgeting throughout the entire rehearsal, and from botching the entrance and rhythm of “it really was no miracle what happened was just this: the wind began to switch, the house to pitch, and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch…” to save my life.
Walking into that first rehearsal brought all new shades and hues to the concept of intimidation; I was shaking in my boots. It’s one thing to walk into a brand new rehearsal room for the first time with a whole bunch of strangers who are also all strangers to one another, or to walk into a rehearsal room speckled with a few familiar faces, but it is entirely another to walk into a room where everybody knows everybody except you.
There were a bunch of chairs set up in two sections to the left and right of a piano. All the boys sat on the right side and all the girls sat on the left side, except me of course, who was too caught up in her own head to be aware of her surroundings and sat on the boy’s side. Thankfully Anne Gregory took me immediately under her wing and gracefully over to the girl’s side. She introduced herself and let me know she was playing Auntie Em and Glinda (what a relief! This warm, matriarchal figure is also playing my warm, matriarchal figure in the play!), that her real life partner Chad Ford would be playing my Uncle Henry, and that if I ever needed anything I had only to ask.
That marked the beginning of me understanding that there really are no strangers in Newfoundland, only friends you haven’t met yet. I am hopeful that another phrase I’ve heard said back home will also prove true: a friend you make in Newfoundland is a friend you’ll have for life. Everyone I’ve encountered here is too wonderful to imagine living without.
Photo: Olivia (different from the stage manager Olivia) ponders which shade of green the Ozians should wear.
You can see the Wizard of Oz on the Arts and Culture Centre stage on Friday October 26 and Saturday October 27 at 8pm, and a Saturday matinee at 2pm. You can get your tickets at the Arts and Culture Centre box office by calling 637–2580 or at the Arts and Culture Centre website.