LeClair, 7, is making lifelong mem- ories as she plays the
role of Daisy, the Wicked Witch of the West's cat in the
Ottawa School of Theatre (OST) production of The Wonderful
Wizard of Oz.
|The cast in the Ottawa School of Theatre production of ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' includes a granddaughter, daughter and mother. PHOTO SUPPLIED
will always remember the experience, just as her grandmother,
Marni Hunt Stephens, 73, recalls being on stage as a four-year-old
in Calgary, "wearing a pretty yellow dress” and being so
terrified she left the stage rather than sing. (Clearly,
with many performances to her credit since, the retired
public servant got over her stage fright.)
mother, Sam LeClair, 39, remembers being cast as a schoolgirl
in the musical Anne of Green Gables at the National
Arts Centre during the Charlottetown Players' national tour
in the 1980s. Then eight, Sam still isn't sure if she was
more excited about getting a role or her upcoming "very
first sleepover with her best friend.”
special for Liv, a Grade 1 student at Glen Ogilvie Public
School, is that her memory will be of sharing the experience
with her mother and Nanny. This is the first time three
generations of one family have performed together in a production
by the popular Orléans theatre school.
by the school's artistic director Kathi Langston, the production
has a cast and crew of 106. Langston emphasises that she
based the script on the original L. Frank Baum book, The
Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900 and not the
1939 film adaptation starring Judy Garland.
are significant differences between the two: among them,
the famous ruby red slippers in the movie are silver in
the book (and hence in the OST production) and several characters
from the book such as the Winkies, Kalidahs, killer bees
and wolves do not appear in the movie.
works well for Langston who faced the challenge of creating
a script with sufficient characters for her large cast.
She also created additional characters, including Daisy
the cat and executive assistants to the various witches.
LeClair plays the Wicked Witch of the West and her mother
plays her assistant.
only is Langston directing Liv LeClair in her first performance,
she was also one of Sam LeClair's first drama teachers.
known Kathi pretty much since I could walk on stage,” says
LeClair, a Grade 5 French Immersion teacher at Summerside
Public School in Avalon.
Stephens and her daughter have performed in countless plays
together, going back nearly 25 years. And while Liv "has
always been a theatre baby in the background,” she never
wanted to be on the stage until now, explains her mother.
year, Liv really wanted to be part of it,” explains LeClair.
factors likely influenced her decision, including the book
"The Bernstein Bears Get Stage Fright,” which by dealing
with stage fright may have given her confidence, says LeClair.
says that while she loves everything about the experience,
her favourite part is being with her Mom.
father, Greg LeClair, with 30 years' experience in the technical
side of theatre, has long watched his mother-in-law and
wife perform and is excited that his daughter is ready to
"try her hand at make-believe.” Theatre is a huge part of
the family's life. In fact, he and Sam met when he was the
theatre technician and she was an actor in the Vintage Stock
Theatre production of "A Drawing Room” in March 2006.
presented The Wonderful Wizard of Oz six years ago
and three adult actors from that production are reprising
their roles in the upcoming show: Lennis Poupore as Kalidah;
Ian Stauffer as the Scarecrow; and Randy Bellini as the
Ian and I relish working together on stage, as we play off
each other so well,” says Bellini. "He has been my mentor
for the past 10 years when I started in theatre, so when
Kathi asked us back to reprise our roles, we jumped at the
opportunity to work together.
is some great young talent in this show, starting with our
Dorothy, Lauren-Jane (Hudson).”
adds he has made subtle, but significant changes to how
he portrays the Cowardly Lion.
many families having several members in the play, Langston
does her best to cast them in scenes together to make the
rehearsal process as convenient as possible. "To make it
more interesting and engaging for people with small roles,
I have doubled up; so a Munchkin can also be a wolf, a crow
or a Winkie,” Langston explains.
Wonderful Wizard of Oz is being presented in the Harold
Shenkman Hall of the Shenkman Arts Centre at 7 p.m. on June
7 and at 2 p.m. on June 8 and 9. Tickets are available at
www.shenkmanarts.ca or by calling 613-580-2700. Tickets
are $12.50 for children and $17.50 for adults, which include
a $2.50 facility surcharge.