Win tickets to see The Wizard of Oz arena spectacular in Newcastle in April

LEAD ROLES: The Wizard of Oz Arena Spectacular cast, from left, Josh Whitten,  Simon Gallaher, Carly Bettinson, Michael Nunn and Chris Geoghegan. The show lands in Newcastle in April.
LEAD ROLES: The Wizard of Oz Arena Spectacular cast, from left, Josh Whitten, Simon Gallaher, Carly Bettinson, Michael Nunn and Chris Geoghegan. The show lands in Newcastle in April.

About 600 children from the Hunter will be part of the Wizard of Oz Arena Spectacular when it launches in Newcastle in April.

Harvest Rain Theatre Company, which produced the arena spectacular shows Greece and Hairspray, will begin a national tour at Newcastle Entertainment Centre with four shows between April 26 and 28.

Company chief executive Tim O'Connor said the show would be an "unforgettable" experience for the audience.

"The show has 800 performers on stage and there's a core professional cast that tours, but every city we visit we pick up local young performers," he said. "The reason we wanted to start here is we discovered Newcastle is like the epicentre of talent."

Experienced performer Simon Gallaher has been chosen to play the Wizard, starring alongside newcomer Carly Bettinson, 19, who will don the ruby red shoes in the coveted role of Dorothy. 

The pair will be joined by Chris Geoghegan in the role of Scarecrow, Michael Nunn as the Tinman, Josh Whitten as the Lion, Aurelie Roque as Glinda the Good Witch and Bil Heit as the Wicked Witch of the West.

While the arena-style Newcastle Entertainment Centre at Broadmeadow is different to the Civic Theatre where Gallaher has previously performed, he sees it as a performance space that will have watchers on the edge of their seats.

The story of The Wizard of Oz is based on children's book by Frank L Baum. O'Connor said the cast of the arena spectacular will be offering a new take on the classic tale. 

"Our vision for this production is quite different to the Oz we've seen on stage before," he said. "The original 1939 film is one of my favourite movies of all time, but we don't just want to replicate the movie on stage.

"Playing in the arena gives us the chance to full reimagine the land of Oz, so our interpretation is a bit grungier and more moody, a little less pantomime and little more steampunk. The technology we're using to bring Oz to life for this production is state-of-the-art and totally breathtaking.

"There's 9-metre tall LED screens wrapping around the entire set playing wall-to-wall animations throughout the whole show so we really will feel transported into the fantastical land of Oz."

Tickets to the Newcastle shows are on sale now through Ticketek. Ticket prices range between $49 and $109.

The Examiner has one family pass to give away to the opening performance at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Friday, April 26 starting 7pm.

To win, send your name, daytime contact details and reason why you would like to win in an email titled "Wizard" to portstephens@fairfaxmedia.com.au. The winner will be notified by 5pm on Wednesday, April 17.

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