Victorian Arts Centre and Victoria State Opera in association with Queensland Performing At Trust and Adelaide Festival Centre Trust present
Diana Davidson • Mervyn Drake • John Gaden • Tony Geappen Pamela Rabe • David Whitney
WIZARD OF OZ
By L. Frank Baum
With music and lyrics based on the MGM motion picture score by
Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg
Background music by Herbert Stothart
Adapted by John Kane from the motion picture screenplay
with Cameron Daddo ‘Scarecrow’
Tamsin West as ‘Dorothy’
Choreography: Leigh Rowles
Set Design: Inspiration
Costume Design: Roger Kirk
Musical Adviser: John Owen Edwards
Musical Director: Michael Tyack
Lighting Design: David Murray
Sound Design: Rod Brown
Assistant to the Director: Gail Ester
Directed by: Philip Cusack
Australian Premiere Thursday 3rd January, 1991
State Theatre, Victorian Arts Centre
This production is dedicated to Betty Pounder Baines AM 1921-1990
The Age / 04 January 1991 Excerpt
Next door Pamela Rabe was trimming her false lime-green talons into sharp points. She saw and loved ‘The Wizard of Oz’ movie as a child, and fantasised about playing a munchkin. “But I quickly learnt that witches had more fun.”
Rabe wasn’t initally considered to play the Wicked Witch of the West. She has built her reputation in “straight” theatre — starring roles this year included ‘The Heidi Chronicles’ and ‘The Moon for the Misbegotten’ with the MTC. She moved to Sydney early in 1990, “It’s been fantastic, I feel incredibly lucky, I went up there totally on spec”, and has performed with the Sydney Theatre Company in Patrick White’s ‘Ham Funeral’, David Hare’s ‘Secret Rapture’ and Chekhov’s ‘The Three Sisters’.
But ‘The Wizard’ appealed. “As soon as I heard they were doing it, I rang my agent. I said: ‘Listen, my whole life has led to this moment …’ ”
“Who wants to play goody-two-shoes? Witches have great fun. I get to fly, throw fireballs, explode and disappear, melt … ” Ms Rabe says she has been playing witch-like characters all her life, starting with the Red Queen in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ at five.
Her height means she often gets cast as a dominant character. “Other than Joan of Arc I can’t think of any strong women roles that aren’t particularly malevolent and manipulative,” she says gleefully.
Rabe is now mastering the broomstick and fulfilling a childhood dream: “When I put on the costume I felt like the most beautiful thing, I got a lump in my throat .. there was my nose (crooked), my chin, my mole…”
Director Philip Cusack is so impressed with the musical debuts of Gaden and the high-flying Rabe that he has a suggestion for a follow-up production next summer: ‘Peter Pan’, starring Rabe as Peter and Gaden as Captain Hook. Sounds a wizard idea to us!
“I have been playing wicked witches and bitches all my life,” says Pamela Rabe. “I’m delighted that I am now getting to play the definitive wicked witch in Wizard of Oz. Actually, I was really anxious to do it. I think it was a surprise to the producers when they heard I wanted to be considered, because I usually do straight theatre – the classics.”
Scans from the Wizard of Oz programme