Follow the yellow brick road to Corfe Castle!

Members of Corfe Castle amateur dramatic group Double Act are hoping it will be third time lucky when they stage their latest production, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, after two previous attempts were interrupted by Covid.

The first in 2020 was hit by lockdown and the second one last year in 2021, was called off because of sickness in the village.

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Dorothy and friends – Tin Man (Dougal Dixon), Lion (Judith Jenkins), Dorothy (Katie Halloway), and Scarecrow (Dee Stephens) in rehearsals

Newcomer plays Dorothy

The drama group was formed in 1997, by the amalgamation of the Purbeck Community Theatre and the Corfe Valley Drama Group. Many of those performing have done so for years. But the lead role of Dorothy is played by a newcomer, Katie Halloway.

Director Peter Smith, who adapted the production from the original L. Frank Baum novel, said:

“This time around, apart from the occasional Covid scare, it’s been fairly smooth running once we decided to go for it. Nobody has had to drop out.”

On their way to the yellow brick road – the cast in character

“Had to be taken home early”

The production, at Corfe Castle village hall, runs from Thursday 24th March through to Saturday 26th March 2022, with a matinee on the Saturday.

Peter said:

“My fascination with the Wizard of Oz started when I was about four years old, and my parents took me to our local cinema to see a re-release of the MGM film version. I got upset in the poppy field sequence and hysterical when the winged monkeys attacked, so much so that I had to be taken home early.

“However, this traumatising event actually kick started my lifelong passion for the cinema and all things scary! Although I only got to see the ending about 20 years later when the film was shown on TV one Christmas.”

Corfe Castle Village Hall New Entrance & Extension
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Corfe Castle Village hall where the performances take place

Based on the book not the film

But anyone expecting the familiar songs from the MGM classic starring Judy Garland is likely to be disappointed. This retelling, with a central stage in the hall to accommodate the famous yellow brick road, is much more faithful to the original book.

Of course, there are the usual characters like the Scarecrow, the Lion and the Tin Man, but the Wicked Witch of the West is more red (with an eye patch!) than black, and Dorothy’s ruby red shoes are silver.

Wicked witch of the west played by Hilary Watson

“A very strange book”

Peter said:

“It’s a very strange book, if you’ve ever read it, a lot darker. I don’t know what the author was on!”

The group is based at Corfe Castle Village Hall and aims to present a major production in November each year. This year, as well as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Double Act will be performing during the village’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

On parade – cast members at rehearsal

“Given me a bit of time off”

Peter added:

“It’s been frustrating at times not being able to perform but I suppose it’s given me a bit of time off.”

Not that this ‘third time lucky’ production is the longest time it’s taken to bring a production to an audience. The group’s award-winning Kidnapped took about five years to make it from page to stage.

The monkeys can be dangerous

Further information

The production of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz takes place at Corfe Castle village hall on the Thursday 24th, Friday 25th and Saturday 26th March 2022, starting at 7.30pm. The Saturday matinee is at 2.30pm.

Tickets cost £10 for adults and £5 for children (under fives are free). There is a ten percent reduction for groups of ten or more.

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