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Growing pains on yellow brick road to Oz for talented young Aberdeen cast

Junior Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre Wizard of Oz
They're off to see the Wizard... Esme Wright, Charlie Tole, Lauren Taylor, Leah Elrick and Iona Crichton with Bella are just some of the Junior Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre cast starring in The Wizard Of Oz at the Tivoli.

The yellow brick road to Oz wasn’t an easy one for Junior Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre – the young cast outgrew their costumes in two years of lockdown after the show was postponed.

“Our costume ladies had a mammoth task of adjusting most of them,” said Shirley McGill, director of AYMT, adding youngsters, aged 10 to 14 were at “prime growing time”.

“Some of them are now almost full-grown – taller than me – so, yes, two years of growth had to be sorted.

Now, though, the talented youngsters are off to see The Wizard Of Oz when the show takes to the stage of the Tivoli Theatre from Wednesday May 4 to Saturday May 7.

Iona Crichton with Bella, who will both be starring in The Wizard Of Oz at The Tivoli Theatre on Guild Street from May 4 to May 7.

Excitement has been building among the 48-strong cast, said Shirley, especially after the disappointment of the show being delayed for more than two years because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Junior AYMT cast rising to challenge of The Wizard Of Oz

“For some of them, that was to be the first time they were going to be in a show, especially in a real theatre and obviously it couldn’t happen. But we always promised we would do it at some point, so I’m happy we can actually keep our promise,” said Shirly, adding they had been able to keep mostly the same cast.

“So now they are getting very excited. One of them actually said ‘I can’t believe in a few days, we’re doing an actual show in an actual theatre’.”

The youngsters have been rising to the challenge of The Wizard Of Oz – a show which Shirley says is trickier to perform than people might realise.

Ready to go over the rainbow are Esme Wright, Iona Crichton with Bella, Leah Elrick, and front from left, Charlie Tole and Lauren Taylor of Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre.

“Actually, it’s really hard. It’s very scripted, with lots of words to learn, with lots of music and harmonies and choreography. They’ve had a real challenge, but they are ready.”

Shirley is confident the audience will be over the rainbow when they finally see the show, not least because this Wizard has a secret weapon.

Bella – the cutest little dog – will star as Toto in The Wizard Of Oz

“We’ve got the cutest little dog for a start, Bella, playing Toto. She has been rehearsing with us since the beginning of the session. She was very timid, but now she just loves to run into rehearsals and goes to speak to all the kids. She’s just in the thick of it – and she has her own little hoodie.”

Too cute… Bella, who will be playing Toto in Junior AYMT’s Wizard Of Oz, in her very own hoodie.

“But we also have fantastic sets that have been built, designed and painted for us. And we have wonderful costumes, very close to the film – and we will also bring so much excitement and enthusiasm. That will come off the stage and into the audience. You’ll see just how much the kids are loving it.”

As well as being able to perform in a classic musical, being part of The Wizard Of Oz is giving the kids valuable life skills, too, said Shirley.

“Obviously they are learning theatre skills, but there’s a lot of discipline, listening and concentrating. There is also being part of a massive team and also taking responsibility for themselves.”

Junior Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre Wizard of Oz
Charlie Tole, Lauren Taylor and Leah Elrick are playing the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow in Junior Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre’s The Wizard Of Oz at The Tivoli.

How to get tickets for Junior AYMT’s Wizard Of Oz at The Tivoli

The end result will be a Wizard Of Oz that the audience will love, hopes Shirley.

“I hope everyone will enjoy the story, because who doesn’t love The Wizard Of Oz. Kids will love the magical spectacle and parents will love the enthusiasm, the excitement and the talented kids. Maybe they will also have a bit of nostalgia for the film, to take them back to their childhood,” she said.

“Everyone will take different things, at different levels for different ages, I think.”

Junior AYMT will stage the Wizard Of Oz at the Tivoli Theatre in Aberdeen from Wednesday May 4 to Saturday May 7. For more information and tickets visit thetivolitheatre.com


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