Letterkenny Musical Society’s production of The Wizard of Oz opens in An Grianán Theatre in Letterkenny on Tuesday February 28th, and tickets are selling fast.
Producer Noel O’Donnell and the production and direction team have brought together a spectacle that honours and reflects the history of LMS, while also opening up the stage to a new generation, and introducing some of the best emerging talent in Donegal to the An Grianán stage.
Everyone knows the story: Dorothy Gale is caught in a tornado which transports her to the magical land of Oz. Once there, she meets a scarecrow, a tin man and a lion, each of whom is missing something vital. Together, they journey to the Emerald City to meet the magical wizard who rules the kingdom, convinced he has the power to make them whole.
However, while the general story and most of the music will be familiar, the version being presented here is a little different.
This is the MUNY version of the story, the least performed version of the musical, which is based primarily on Frank L Baum’s original 1900 book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, rather than the 1939 film, on which other versions are based. This means a number of scenes are different, and Dorothy sings a song called “Evening Star”, which does not feature in the film.
Possibly the biggest difference is the fact that Toto the dog does not appear in the book, and therefore the An Grianán stage will be a canine-free zone. Still, that won’t be an issue, because the calibre of humans on the stage will be very strong.
Dorothy is played by Eimear Friel, who is understudied by Elly Meenan, two wonderfully talented singers and actors who have bright futures on stage. Scarecrow is played by Eoin Callaghan; the Tin Man, appropriately enough, by Andrew Tinney; and the Cowardly Lion by Giles Murray. All three of them are fast becoming veterans of the local stage, and their ownership of the stage is a testament to the way An Grianán Theatre is encouraging and fostering local talent.
Elpheba, the Wicked Witch of the West, is portrayed by Nicola Shields, who is revelling in the chance to play the baddie; while LMS newcomer Caitríona Solan is Glinda, the Good Sorceress. Caitríona’s voice will familiar to GAA patrons in Donegal, as she regularly sings the national anthem at matches across the county. The Wizard of Oz is played by Cathal Quinn, whose sonorous voice will get a proper workout this time around.
As well as overseeing direction and stage work, Maria Rushe and Donal Kavanagh play Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, while Producer Noel O’Donnell plays Lord Growlie, the wizard’s chamberlain. His daughter Gloria, our guide through the Emerald City, is brought to life by Rachel Akkoc, while the Mayor of Munchkinland is played by Joseph Gallagher, last seen as Peter Pan on the An Grianán stage. Tommy Daly is Joe the farmhand, while Lorraine Porter and Katy McCafferty play two witches who will make a lasting impression.
Following the retirement of Billy Patterson after Jesus Christ Superstar last year, Noel O’Donnell and his team, Donal Kavanagh leads the direction team, with invaluable input from Assistant Directors Maria Rushe and Nicola Shields.
Mark Bradley is musical director, with Pat Campbell as his right hand man, while Rebecca Thompson again oversees choreography.
The shows opens on Tuesday February 28th, and runs until Saturday March 4th. Tickets are selling fast with a number of shows practically booked out already. Tickets are available through the An Grianán box office or via www.angrianan.com.