Scene News: The Wizard of Oz to partner with official charity RSPCA Victoria

Producers John Frost and Suzanne Jones today announced their canine stars who will play the role of Toto in the upcoming Australian tour of the world’s favourite musical, The Wizard of Oz. Taking on the role of Dorothy’s loyal companion will be Australian Cairn Terriers Flick and Trouble, who will share the role of Toto. The producers are also delighted to announce that they will be partnering with RSPCA Victoria as their official charity partner, which will see the production raise funds for the charity.

Hailing from Ballarat, Flick and Trouble are trained by Luke Hura, the country’s leading film, television and theatre dog trainer. In addition to these prized pooches, Luke trained Koko, the star of the film Red Dog, as well as Buddy who played Sandy for the GFO production of Annie in 2012. Luke has been tasked with training the dogs to perform a variety of tricks ‘set to script’ as well as teaching actress Samantha Dodemaide, who plays Dorothy, how to work collaboratively with the dogs and keep them focused in the performance.

“After rigorous paw-ditions across the country, we unanimously agreed that Flick and Trouble were the perfect dogs to play our Toto,” said John Frost. “They are clever and confident dogs who will be trained based on techniques using natural instincts and positive reinforcement for tricks from travelling in a “flying” house, to being carried in a basket by Dorothy and encounters with the Wicked Witch of The West. We know Luke will have a wonderful time training Flick and Trouble, and we have no doubt Australian audiences will fall in love with them too.”

Suzanne Jones said, “We are absolutely thrilled to be collaborating with RSPCA Victoria as our chosen official charity partner. With Toto being one of the most-loved characters in the show, it seemed a logical and rewarding partnership. As Dorothy discovers ‘there is no place like home’; so we are looking forward to working with RSPCA in each state to raise money and awareness of the surrendered and homeless animals that come into its care, to help find them a new, forever home.”

RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said the animal welfare charity was delighted to be the charity partner for The Wizard of Oz production. “The Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy and Toto showcase so well the bonds between people and their pets,” Dr Walker said. “RSPCA Victoria is thrilled to be partnering with such an iconic musical.”

To raise funds for RSPCA Victoria, an allocation of tickets will be set aside for a performance of The Wizard of Oz in Melbourne. Funds raised from the sale of these tickets will be donated to RSPCA Victoria to support their local animal care and adoption facilities. Performance and ticket details will be available soon.

Flick and Trouble will join The Wizard of Oz cast beside Anthony Warlow as The Wizard and Professor Marvel, Lucy Durack as Glinda the Good Witch, Jemma Rix as The Wicked Witch of the West and Samantha Dodemaide as Dorothy.

The London Palladium production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s will have its Australian Premiere in Brisbane at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC from 4 November before travelling to the Capitol Theatre, Sydney from 30 December; the Festival Theatre, Adelaide from 3 April; and the Regent Theatre, Melbourne, from 15 May. Tickets for the Adelaide season will be on sale from 8 September.

Developed from the ever-popular MGM screenplay, the London Palladium production of The Wizard of Oz contains the beloved Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg songs from the Oscar^®-winning movie score, all the favorite characters and iconic moments, plus a few surprises along the way, including new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The new production of The Wizard of Oz had its world premiere at The London Palladium Theatre in March 2011. After a successful West End run, the production had its North American premiere in Toronto in December 2012, and then embarked on a US tour from September 2013. The production boasts a stellar creative team: Jeremy Sams (direction), Robert Jones (set and costume design), Arlene Phillips (choreography), Hugh Vanstone (lighting design), Mick Potter (sound design), Jon Driscoll & Daniel Brodie (video/projection design), David Cullen (orchestrations) and Guy Simpson (musical supervision).

“Brilliant…A ten-star production if ever there was one!” – The Sunday Telegraph
“Enchanting, exciting and electrifying!! – ETalk CTV
“Over the rainbow and over the top fun! 5 stars!” – Breakfast Television Toronto

Click your heels together and join Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Dorothy and her little dog Toto, as they journey through the magical land of Oz to meet the Wizard and obtain their hearts’ desires. Watch out for the Wicked Witch of the West and her “winged monkeys” as you rediscover the real story of Oz in this fantastic musical treat for the whole family.

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