New take on familiar road

By Ryan Fahy.

The yellow brick road was paved once again on the Sunshine Coast in April as Gateway Theatre Productions brought a fresh take of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer classic The Wizard of Oz.

This rendition of the popular production boasted a familiar face to a Sunshine Coast udience starring someone who is more familiar in a news room than on a musical stage.

Rosanna Natoli from Channel 7 ews starred as the Wicked Witch of the West ile Kayleigh Marven took centre stage as Dorothy Gale.

The cast of more than 70 included a 20-piece orchestra led by Lucas D Lynch and featured an army of munchkins played by school kids from the area, some from as far as Gympie.

Thomas Armstrong Robley led the production while Jenny Usher handled choreography in what will be Gateway Theatre Production’s second musical since debuting with Jesus Christ Superstar ast year.

Robley says that with so many different renditions of the classic MGM script gracing the stage every year, it is important that some form of element or storyline differs from the original production.

But he says the pressure is on not lose the charm of classic script that a many of musical maniacs have fallen in love with.

“The way I approach any production is rather than trying to be different for the sake of being different, it’s eally important to go right to the stimulus material and look at the characters and relationships and really hone in on those things,” Robley says.

For example, this production reimagined the witch as a glamorous and attractive character, presenting the idea that society’s evils are often fuelled by greed and elitism.

“I decided to do some shocking things like removing some of those elements that the audience expect to be there for example Dorothy’s blue and white checked dress. , people will expect it to be there, but it’s not important to the show,” Robley says.

Natoli, as the Wicked Witch, had not been on stage for more than 20 years, but performed in school and university productions. She is keen to impress.

“I think that I place a high expectation on myself, so I am really very keen to make sure I live up to that, so that brings a bit of nerves,” Natoli says.

Being in the public eye is something Natoli is used to, having been a news presenter on Channel 7 for many years.

“It’s always great when you get to work on something with a group of people who create something that is entertaining or thoughtful or insightful,” Natoli says.

“It’s a fantastic group of people all passionate about creating something wonderful.”

Sunshine Coast musical fanatics will have their Wizard of Ozfetish filled this weekend and Natoli says the Sunshine Coast amateur scene was of a high standard and lively.

“While there isn’t much in the way of professional productions in the area there is a strong passion and love for the smaller amateur scene on the coast,” she says.

“I attend where I can and think we have a great amateur theatre scene on the Sunshine Coast and it is good to see more and more professional-influenced productions here.”

Robley says the coast had a wealth of musical abilities.

“Talented people from the Sunshine Coast are travelling to Brisbane to do shows because in Brisbane the audience supports theatre and there is more of a scene there,” Robley says.

“They have the talent up here, but it needs to be encouraged, so that they can put shows on and people will come out to them.”

The musical was on at The Events Centre in Caloundra from April 8 to 11.

Beneath the yellow brick road

By Ryan Fahy


A poster from the original release. Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Wikicommons:

It would be quite a struggle to find somebody who hasn’t seen at least one adaptation of the classic Wizard of Oz, whether it’s a version of production or the movie.

However, here are some forgotten facts about the family favourite that might even surprise the most dedicated fans.

  1. Oil used for the Tin Man’s suit n the film was actually chocolate syrup.
  2. Although Dorothy’s slippers are famously ruby both in the original and modern versions of the production, originally they were meant to be silver.
  3. The lighting used to shoot the film caused temperatures to reach around 100 degrees, causing uncomfortable conditions for the cast.
  4. The green makeup that was used on set of the movie for the witch’s (Margaret Hamilton’s) face was poisonous to ingest, so the actress was forced to survive only on liquids during filming.
  5. The classic ‘Over the Rainbow’ scene was nearly cut from the film due to concerns about running time.
  6. Toto the dog earned $125 per week during the filming of the movie, while the munchkin actors were only paid $50 per week.
  7. Before rising to fame with the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, creator L. Frank Baum use to breed exotic varieties of chickens.
  8. The flames seen blazing out of the ruby slippers at the Wicked Witch’s touch were created by speeding up repeated sprays of apple juice.
  9. The part of the Cowardly Lion was originally intended for the real-life MGM lion, but was later reconsidered and scrapped.
  10. The snow used in one scene was created using asbestos.

Information sourced from:


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