Off to see the wizard
‘They’re big shoes to step into, aren’t they?’ says Helen McAlpine, about the specially-customised ruby slippers she’ll be wearing onstage in the Citizens’ Theatre’s Wizard of Oz. She’s not talking about her shoe size, either – as Dorothy Gale, McAlpine will be taking on one of the most iconic roles in musical history. ‘Judy Garland’s a legend. I’m a bit nervous about it. I think the important thing is just to enjoy myself, enjoy battling witches, dancing with Munchkins and and meeting Cowardly Lions. And not worry too much about trying to be Judy!’
Her slight trepidation is understandable. This year, the Citz are bringing the whole world of Oz to life, using virtually the same script and all of the same songs as the classic 1939 movie. However, the Citizens has a history of putting on excellent large-scale festive productions, which focus very much on the story rather than the cat-calling audience participation of panto, and their Oz is going to be helped along by designer Jason Southgate’s gorgeous puppets, a hefty budget for special effects, and a gold-star cast. Cara Kelly is popping up as the Wicked Witch of the West, while Andrew Clark, last seen with skull in hand as Guy Holland’s Hamlet, will be proving his versatility in a fur suit as the Cowardly Lion. That’s not to mention the huge cast of all-singing all-dancing Munchkins, played by local schoolchildren and the young performers of the Citizens’ youth company.
McAlpine, however, is most looking forward to the quietest moment of the show.
‘I’m really excited about ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. It’s an absolutely beautiful, iconic song – everyone knows it, and it’s a really nice moment for an audience to have at this time of year.’
Aah. There’s no place like home.
The Wizard of Oz, Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, Sat 29 Nov–Sat 3 Jan. Call 0141 429 0022 or visit www.citz.co.uk to book.