They're off to meet the wizard, and the yellow brick road leads right to the Opera House
Theatre fans in Blackpool will soon be off to follow the Yellow Brick Road.
On its way to the Opera House is a lavish new stage version of The Wizard of Oz, featuring all the much loved characters and famous songs.
The show, being performed from December 7 to 30, includes Emmerdale’s Kelvin Fletcher as the Tin Man, X Factor quarter-finalist Holly Tandy as Dorothy and Radio Wave presenter Scott Gallagher as the Cowardly Lion.
Joining them as the Scarecrow is Kieran McGinn and also Sarah Tullamore, who plays the dastardly Wicked Witch of the West.
Playing such famous characters, known and loved by generations of families, is exciting and daunting at the same time.
And for Scott, who lives in Blackpool and went to school in Kirkham, there is the extra edge of performing in his home town.
He said: “My mum will be there, so that’s added pressure!
“With a role like this, I’m aiming to put my own interpretation on it but at the same time make it recognisable as the Cowardly Lion that people have grown up with from the film.
“I’ve been performing since I was little and live theatre is what I love best - for the last six years I’ve been doing panto in Middlesbrough.
“But I’ve never been in a full-on musical before. That’s probably my biggest challenge in this show, because there are some really excellent singers.
“I’m enjoying the rehearsals so much, though, and I can’t wait for us to see the finished stage set - it’s meant to be brilliant and spectacular.”
Sarah Tullamore, a singer and actor who has worked extensively in theatre, including French language productions across the English Channel, is relishing her role as the Wicked Witch of the West.
She said: “I’m the main baddie. I’ve played all kinds of characters, stressed people, angry people – but never an all out meanie. It’s great fun.
“Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Blackpool and I can’t wait. Outside London, it is the number one place you associate with entertainment.
“When Strictly is in Blackpool, it is the most exciting part of the series.”
She added: “It’s great for me to have a chance to show people what I can do, because it’s a reality of our industry that they do cast celebrities in shows to bring people in.”
Kieran McGinn is another performer with a diverse theatrical background and for this role he’s been learning to move in the distinctive manner of the straw-filled Scarecrow.
He says: “It’s a bit like a new-born deer that has to learn to walk for the first time – but he does get better at walking as the show goes on.”
He added: “I think people will always love the Wizard of Oz. Apart from the great songs, it’s about good triumphing over evil and not giving up – I think everyone can relate to that.”
Expect to hear all the big numbers, such as Over the Rainbow, Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, Follow the Yellow Brick Road, If I Only Had a Brain and We’re Off to See the Wizard.
The full cast also includes Kate Milner-Evans, Bianca Szynal, Anthony Ray, Chloe Carrington, Jon Bonner, Charlotte Scott, Brian Ó’Muirí, Billy Roberts and Jess Parker with Search for Toto winners Teddy and Pascha sharing the role of Toto.