We’re off to see the Wizard

May 4, 2024 BY

With a tap of her ruby red slippers, Dorothy and her friends will transport audiences to the magical land of Oz with their latest production. Photo: ABBY PARDEW

One of Geelong’s oldest theatre groups will take audiences over the rainbow with their upcoming performance of The Wizard of Oz hitting the stage at Geelong Arts Centre later this month.

The Geelong Lyric Theatre Society, which celebrates 50 years of performances this year, will use the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 1987 adaptation of Victor Fleming’s original 1939 film to bring the story to life, premiering on May 24.

On for nine shows only, Geelong Lyric Theatre Society president and musical director, Brad Treloar, said their performance will be the closest version to the movie with some slight differences.

Andrew Lorenzo and Georgia Van Etten were part of the company’s 2013 production of The Phantom of the Opera. Photo: SANDY GRAY


“There’s a couple of extra things that aren’t in the movie because they were actually cut scenes, like the Jitterbug sequence that was originally recorded into the movie but never actually made the final cut.”

Eight years ago, the theatre group found success with The Wizard of Oz, performing to sell-out crowds.

“We find that it’s a great one to always bring back because it involves a large cast and lots of kids which is great to have involved.

“In the current production of Wizard of Oz, we’ve got several children from eight years of age right through to adults.”

Mr Treloar said the musical is one that generations have grown up with and covers all age groups.

“Overall, it’s a beautiful musical. That friendship Dorothy has with Tin Man and the Scarecrow and the Lion, you can see that build throughout the show.

Howard Dandy took the stage as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof in 2011. Photo: SANDY GRAY. BELOW: Jersey Boys was nominated for a number of awards in 2023 by the Music Theatre Guild of Australia. Photo: MICHAEL MASON.


“That’s really quite a highlight and the way the four of them are actually working together is really nice to see.”

Auditions were held in December last year where Ava McInees was cast as Dorothy, alongside her dog who plays Toto.

The 16-year-old has performed in School of Rock and is well-known around Geelong for her role in The Mik Maks.

“We’re really grateful to see Ava come on stage with us,” Mr Treloar said.

“She’s a great talent. She’s been such a help to have in the cast and she’s really well involved with everything.”

Along with a talented cast, the team have worked hard behind the scenes on the technical aspects of the show to produce a high-quality performance, similar to something that would be seen in a professional theatre.

“The way we’re staging it, is we’re using a lot of visual effects, so we’re doing lots of projections, as well as sets, but we’re trying to use some of those visual aspects, Mr Treloar said.

In 1981 the group performed Mikado, the first performance in the new Ford Theatre Geelong Performing Arts Centre. Photo: SUPPLIED


The company was originally started in 1974 under the name of Geelong Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Company before being changed to Geelong Lyric Theatre Society.

Since then, they have produced more than 100 shows, with a large number of people being involved in that time.

Looking back over the last 50 years, Mr Treloar said there have been several changes, most notably the difference in the scale of the shows and how they are staged.

“We go back 50 years ago, the first shows were staged in the old plaza theatre. Even at Geelong High School, there were some staged there, so going back they’re a lot more basic.

“The lighting and sets and things like that have come a long way in that time and back then it was not very often we would have a full orchestra.”

Mr Treloar said being part of the Geelong Lyric Theatre Society is like being part of a big family, with the cast and committee coming together.

Ava McInees will play Dorothy in the upcoming production of The Wizard of Oz. Photo: ABBY PARDEW


“There’s certainly that collective of people that just really love to see this company thrive and succeed,” he said.

Mr Treloar said they have a history with doing big shows including past productions of Fiddler on the Roof, Phantom of the Opera, Hairspray and more.

Geelong Lyric Theatre Society has been nominated for a number of awards for their productions, directors, producers and actors by the Music Theatre Guild of Australia.

In 2023, the Society was nominated for nine awards across several categories for their performance of Jersey Boys, including production of the year and two nominations for Lead Performer in a Male Presenting Role.

The music theatre company puts together two performances each year, normally in autumn and spring.

For tickets to the Wizard of Oz and more information, head to geelongartscentre.org.au

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