Titchfield Festival Theatre go over the rainbow with The Wizard of Oz

Titchfield Festival Theatre is bringing a timeless classic to the stage for its next show – The Wizard of Oz.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 3:46 pm
The cast of The Wizard of Oz, by Titchfield Festival Theatre, from June 16-26, 2021. Picture by Ross Underwood

It tells the story of Dorothy Gale, a young country girl who dreams of going to a faraway land over the rainbow, and features all the much-loved characters – Toto, The Tin Man, The Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow.

Using the RSC’s version, which draws heavily on the 1939 Judy Garland-starring film, the TFT company aim to bring a slice of the West End to their stage.

Becky Weaving joined TFT in 2018 and her first role was as a flapper in The Great Gatsby. She took several more acting roles, but last summer stepped into directing for the first time with A Chorus Line.

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With restrictions still tight at the time, the show was livestreamed only.

‘For my first time directing, it was very challenging’, recalls Becky. ‘I wasn't expecting the limited numbers, the limited rehearsals – Zoom rehearsals were fun with the time lag!

‘But it came together in the end and everyone worked really, really hard, which is kind of similar to what's happened this time.

‘A lot of the rehearsals so far have been via Zoom and we've only come back in to person in the last couple of weeks.’

Becky’s glad to get back in the theatre – choreographing the dance routines has been particularly tough via Zoom or Facebook, with flipped images, needing to face away from the camera, and so on.

‘It's been a rollercoaster, she laughs. ‘It's really difficult. My main aim was just for them to learn their lines and get off script as soon as possible, and then it was mainly helping them get that character devlopment so they believed what they were saying.

‘So when we came to in-person rehearsals it's mainly just blocking it and getting the scenes to work together.

With a cast and crew of 34, there’s a lot to keep tabs on, but Becky says: ‘It's been amazing – everybody's spirits are so heightened because they're so passionate about being back on stage.

‘When we were doing it on Zoom it was all a bit disconnected, but now they're in costume, particularly, their whole energy level has been really boosted. I think it's going to be an amazing show.’

When casting the show, Becky had to do it socially distanced and one-to-one.

‘It was a long, long two days of auditions, and after the first day I was already pretty tired of Somewhere Over The Rainbow because that's what everyone chose to sing – that and If I Only Had A Brain!

‘We decide to use the RSC version rather than the Andrew Lloyd Webber version, because as magical as that is, I'm more old school and I like the traditional ones.

‘The cast pay tribute to those original cast members – so we've had little nods of their characteristics as well as adding their own interpretations to the parts.’

Becky also paid tribute to the technical team working on the show: ‘The backstage crew have been amazing, the sets they've made and the props are incredible – the house moves, they've got something to make the hot air balloon – it's all go, go, go.’

The show will be also streamed live on Friday 18/25 & Saturday 19/26.

THE WIZARD OF OZ

Titchfield Festival Theatre

June 16-26

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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