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Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Ham Sandwich brings a longtime favourite to Flin Flon stage

Area theatregoers will take a trip down the Yellow Brick Road as Ham Sandwich prepares to present The Wizard of Oz.

First-time co-directors Alain Lachapelle and Leslie Fernandes were overwhelmed last week with the more than 60 auditioners interested in being a part of the fall production.

Auditions were held at the RH Channing Auditorium, where adults and children read for the eminent tale’s familiar parts.

“It’s a bit daunting to see that many people, because we were afraid at the beginning that there wouldn’t be enough people,” said Lachapelle. “But it’s awesome.”

Munchkins

Oz will cast 11 adults and “as many [children] as we can fit on the stage,” said Lachapelle.

All told, 33 children showed up for auditions.

“So, pretty much any of the [children] that showed up, we’re going to put them in the play,” Lachapelle said.

“They might not all get lines,” said Fernandes, adding that children able to handle lines would receive them.

Aside from the number of area residents interested in being on stage, both Fernandes and Lachapelle were surprised by the quality of the younger talent.

“Some of those [children] were really good,” said Fernandes. “They were comfortable up on stage and they weren’t really shy.”

“That’s something we were a little worried about,” said Lachapelle, “that we’d get these [children] and they would just stand there and [look around aimlessly].”

Fernandes and Lachapelle were impressed with the children’s desire to “run around and pretend to be a monkey and use
the stage.”

“We have something
to work with,” said Fernandes.

The children auditioning weren’t the only ones who impressed. Familiar local performers graced the stage, but the Oz auditions brought out many new faces, too.

“And that’s what we want,” added Lachapelle, “to bring more people into the fold.”

Goals

Neither Fernandes nor Lachapelle are new to
the theatre world, but directing is new for both actors.

The team began preparations for Oz the summer, and the curtain will rise in November for two shows.

“I feel like we’re pretty organized,” said Fernandes.

Along with organizing and planning, the pair agrees that directing is the real goal to accomplish during this show.

“There’s a difference from directing and doing all the planning and organizing,” Fernandes said. “The difference is actually directing actors by saying, ‘Say this louder, say this this way.’

“That would be a big step for us and something we’ve never done.”

Nerves

Auditioning for a part in a play can be a nerve-wracking thing, but Lachapelle and Fernandes agreed it’s not just the actors who are anxious.

“Earlier today I was going to…pass out
from the nerves,” said Lachapelle.

“We’ve both been on the stage and [earlier] I was more nervous for [watching the auditions] than any opening night as an actor,” said Fernandes. “It all falls on our shoulders. Dorothy is on every single page of that script, so if we cast the wrong Dorothy, then we have to struggle the whole time. That’s a lot of pressure.”

Lachapelle agreed and said his nerves calmed down once the auditions got underway.

Go big or go home

When it came to choosing a play, Oz was an easy choice for Fernandes once she came across the option. She scrolled through numerous plays and selected possible productions.

“But when The Wizard of Oz showed up, that
was it,” she said,
excited.  

“We were sold,” said Lachapelle.

As first time co-directors, the pair asked
themselves why they chose Oz.

“Maybe it was a bad idea,” Lachapelle laughed, “but ‘Go big or go home.’”

With confidence, he said the pair wanted to pick something that they were familiar with.

“We didn’t want to have to read between the lines,” said Fernandes.

Volunteers

Oz will also allow for many people within the community to be a part of the production without being on stage. Set, costume, prop and makeup departments will all need to be formed and a stage manager named.

“If anyone wants to help, there is a lot of work,” said Fernandes. “We can definitely find you a place.”

For those interested in being a part of the production behind the scenes, contact Fernandes and Lachapelle at wizardofozff@gmail.com.