Throw on your ruby slippers and click your heels three times, because the premier of The Wizard of Oz is arriving in Brisbane this November.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s London Palladium production has pulled together Australia’s most beloved musical theatre stars to bring life to this magical classic. Anthony Warlow appears as The Wizard and Professor Marvel, with Jemma Rix and Lucy Durack reuniting after their 2011 national tour of Wicked.
The pair, who are returning to star as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch, are bound to impress audiences with their on-stage chemistry and powerhouse voices.
The Creative Issue chatted with Lucy Durack about her re-entrance into the technicolour world of munchkins and broomsticks.
TCI: The Wizard of Oz is a classic that everyone loves, do you remember the first time you watched it?
Lucy: I’ve watched The Wizard of Oz a million times. My mum always used to put on The Wizard of Oz, Pollyanna, Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music, and she’d sit us down and tell us “These are important films, you’ll love them…” and of course, we did. I’m one of three girls and we’d watch them over and over again. Anytime it comes on I stop what I’m doing and watch a bit, and get sucked in when it goes into technicolour and they land in munchkin land. It brings back nostalgic memories of enjoying it as a family.
TCI: Well you get to live in it that world now, which is incredibly exciting!
Lucy: Yes! I have my own daughter now who’s two, and I’m so excited for my husband to bring her along so I can introduce her to The Wizard of Oz in this very special way.
TCI: Is it hard to find balance between being a mother and being in a musical?
Lucy: In a show like this there’s excellent balance, as with Glinda in The Wizard of Oz I don’t have nearly as much stage time as I did with Glinda in Wicked. It’s a more relaxed version, when you’re on stage a lot it takes up so much of your day and energy, especially vocal and physical energy. Coming onstage and singing a few nice pieces allows me to be a bit more relaxed, as I can be a full-time mum and still perform.
It’s such a special, big, magical show and it’s an incredible treat. It’s the first musical I’ve done since having Polly so my balance needs to be kept more in check. I just did work full-time in a new television show called Sisters coming out on Channel 10, and it was wonderful fun, but after working long hours for three months I’m almost enjoying this as a working holiday.
I’m involved in such a beautiful and prestigious musical. It’s important I have a lot of responsibility and always do my absolute best.
TCI: As you’ve played Glinda before, are you approaching the character differently or treating her like an old friend?
Lucy: It’s a bit of both. She has similar bones and a similar essence from Wicked as opposed to the Wicked Witch. Glinda is always going for the good and thinking how there’s always more than one way to go about things. Glinda wants to find the kind version of everything. If you had Glinda at the end of Wicked when she’s ready to take on the responsibility of taking care of the citizens of Oz and the munchkins, that’s where we start The Wizard of Oz. She’s more mature but still has that glitzy, fun character you see in Wicked.
TCI: What’s the highlight of playing the Good Witch?
Lucy: My favourite is singing ‘Popular’ to Elphaba. She’s the best audience member ever so I can try heaps of different things to make her laugh. That’s always an absolute hoot.
TCI: Surely wearing the costumes are a highlight too, Glinda’s gowns are gorgeous.
Lucy: In this show I have a huge and amazing dress which, at one point, takes up the entire stage. Apart from having a massive dress, I also have this blue wig with a huge up-do which looks like a Mr Whippy ice cream, so I won’t be a blonde Glinda, I’ll be blue haired, which is fun.
TCI: What’s your relationship with Jemma Rix (Elphaba) like?
Lucy: We are both very close. As soon as we were offered the part in The Wizard of Oz we jumped on the phone with each other. The first thing John Frost said to Jem after he got her in was, “Alright, you can go and call Lucy now.” We were like, “Oh my god, are you going to do it?” “I think I will!” So we just had this check in. We got asked to do quite a lot before everyone else was cast and we were really excited. Just hanging out in different green rooms around the country and doing interviews together and singing at launches is lovely.
TCI: Do you prefer working on stage or on screen?
Lucy: I prefer both, I love doing a mix of the two. This year I filmed a few episodes of Doctor Doctor and I just finished a series called The Let Down and also did Sisters, which both air at the end of the month. I have loved the television side of things, it’s a whole new challenge which I’ve absolutely adored. The last time I did a musical was when I was pregnant with Polly, so technically Polly played Glinda as well. But yes, this show is very special and I’m looking forward to going down the road with my family and heading to Brisbane.
TCI: Now that Polly has already played Glinda, do you think she’ll follow you into the musical theatre industry?
Lucy: I don’t know! She does love to sing and dance but I think most kids that age do. We’ll just have to see how the cookie crumbles. Whatever she does we’ll be very proud of her and will support her.
TCI: Training at WAAPA (Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts) would have been incredible. What was your experience there like?
Lucy: I had a wonderful time at WAAPA. I grew up about 20 minutes away but I didn’t even know it existed until I was in year 12. I went to an open day and I remember wandering through corridors hearing people singing brand new Australian theatre, somebody else reciting poetry and seeing somebody else tap dancing. It just seemed like this magical world… like Fame but in real life, and I was like, “This is the most amazing place ever!” I’m very grateful for it, not only for the training but for the people I trained with. I’m still very close friends with them and have worked with the tutors who taught me there on other things. It was wonderful for so many different reasons.
Join Lucy on her adventure down the yellow brick road… details below.
What: The Wizard of Oz
When: From 4 Nov 2017
Where: QPAC, Lyric Theatre.
Tickets: $49.90 – $179.90 Find out more here.
This article originally appeared on The Creative Issue