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The Wizard of Aus
O
UR TOTOS

Totos - Behind the Scenes

Our two Totos, Spirit and Porsche, after a series of auditions, have been successful in obtaining the “role” of Toto in the Australian stage production of the Wizard Of Oz. They have to relocate to Sydney and there are many adjustments to make and things to learn in the next few weeks.

Imagine how demanding the lives of their “2 legged” friends will be!!!

8.a.m. Lindy puts us in the car and we drive down to the park at Coogee Beach. There we do a bit of sniffing, scratching and exploring to see if there are any signs of strange “critters” which have been in the park during the night. Then we are taken on a long, brisk walk to keep us fit. Our little legs get pretty tired after about half an hour and we thankfully flop down on the grass to have a rest. We have made lots of friends in the park, both 2 legged and 4 legged. We stop and have a chat as a lot of people seem to know us.

Sometimes for a change, Lindy walks us to the Randwick Shopping Centre. She walks us around the car park so we get used to all kinds of noises and see lots of people. Then we walk back home. Lindy gets ready to take us to rehearsals.

Spirit retires to the day bed on the verandah, amongst all the cushions and has a “dog nap”.

Porsche is ever busy and goes into cat chasing/stalking mode. She snuffles around the garden, looking under rocks and bushes in the hope that she will find some unsuspecting lizards to hassle.

9.45. Lindy, Spirit and Porsche leave for rehearsals. At first they are held at “Rehearsal Space” at Broadway in the inner city. The displayed schedule for the day determines the day’s proceedings. At “Rehearsal Space” there are many rooms – each with its own function. One room is for singing, one for dancing, one for scene construction and so on. There is no stage – only a big open room and the actors’ and actresses’ places are “marked out”. We attend dancing and singing lessons. We just sit, watch and listen. Then we have private time with Nikki. She is the only cast member who is allowed to pat and cuddle us. Sometimes she gives us our dinners. She likes us – we know- because we give her wet sloppy kisses and she does not object.

1p.m. Lindy takes us home for lunch and a bit of a break. We just mooch around

until it is time to leave for afternoon rehearsals.

2.30-6.00. More rehearsals.

At home Lindy has been getting us used to sudden, loud noises by banging books together, slamming doors and such like. She even dresses up in a coloured sheet and dances around us, cackling and shrieking like a witch. At night she lights sparklers and we sit in the dark and watch them. Boy oh boy, we have never seen so many sparklers. We sometimes wonder who this strange lady is – why does she do all these weird things? But nothing really prepares Spirit for the first time she comes face to face with the Wicked Witch and her broomstick. Little does Lindy know that Aunty Val has a straw broom at the kennels. If we get boisterous or raucous, Aunty Val brandishes the broom at us and we know she means business. Now that Lindy is aware of this fact, the problem can be quickly solved. Some very tempting pieces of chicken are hidden in the broom and Spirit’s penchant for food soon overtakes her fear of the actual broom.

Doug Parkinson (cowardly lion) is a mountain of a man with a booming voice. When Spirit meets up with him for the first time, she barks incessantly at him. Is this huge man a friend or foe of Dorothy’s? Spirit has to work this one out for herself. To get accustomed to his heavy, hot costume Doug was in the habit of wearing a pullover to rehearsals – in the middle of summer. The first time Cowardly Lion wore his tail, which is suspended from his waist and tends to be a bit unruly, Lion turned too quickly and his wayward tail smacked Dorothy in the face. OUCH! Spirit was enthralled with this fluffy thing which bounced around at her eye level, and she was not sure whether to ignore it or KILL it. The bulky costume impedes the Lion’s movements and his huge “paws” make it impossible for him to pick up Toto as the script required. A compromise is reached and Toto is put in the Lion’s arms off stage.

The whole cast goes to the Opera House where they meet up with the orchestra.

They just sit around and “sing” the whole show. Spirit and Porsche go and listen to the music for the first time. Porsche is fascinated by the moving head of the conductor. Why oh why does he have to wave his hands around so much? There is not a fly in sight.

Porsche is very pleased that there is a safety net between the stage and the orchestra pit. This net is in case a prop falls. But Porsche thinks it is there in case she falls off the stage when Dorothy yells, “Run, Toto, Run!

The full dress rehearsals are now under way and we are introduced to the pyrotechnics for the first time. We pass this test with flying colours. All the “wizardry” which features in the Wizard of Oz is practised many times. There are aerial harnesses to check for their workability and safety. That “ordinary” person who carries Toto off to the wicked witch has now turned into a “flying monkey”. Gee, this Oz place is sure confusing.

Now it is time for the preview performances which are played to “full houses.”

At the first preview performance Spirit gets a fit of the “scratchies” The audience chuckles. Well if a girl gets itchy, she’s gotta have a good scratch!

One of the Winkies kicks so high that one of his leggings flies off and is airborne. Undoubtedly, after the show closes, this member of the ensemble will be approached by the Sydney Swans. With a kick like that, who knows where his future lies?

On two occasions the balloon refuses to “go up.”

The long dress worn by the nasty Miss Gultch becomes caught in her bicycle chain. She has to literally complete the scene “wearing” the bicycle. This is the one and only time we feel sorry for nasty Miss Gultch.

Something is happening – this we know. Lindy seems to be a bit jittery. We have both been bathed, blow dried, combed, and even had smelly stuff put behind our ears. We must be going on a date.

It is opening night. The cast is being made up and getting into their costumes. There are people running around everywhere. Lindy gives Dorothy and Toto one last prompt.

The band strikes up for the overture, the curtain rises and it is SHOW TIME.

Everything works as it should and the cast members give fine performances.

After the show there are many accolades and Nancye has a big smile on her face.

We hear the sound of many “popping” corks. Dorothy celebrates with a bottle of soft drink. All we are offered is our usual drink of water. Oh well, we suppose that is one of the drawbacks of having four legs.

Shhhhhh! Don’t tell Nancye what we have told you. She might try to “muzzle” us. But we think that secretly, she is getting used to us. We might not say much, but we sure hear a lot.

For any live production a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes. The Wizard of Oz is no exception. As time goes by more funny things or “bloopers” will happen.

Keep coming back to visit us and we will tell you all latest gossip from Oz.

Lindy has a C.D. that she plays for us. On this C.D. are all recorded “noises” from the show. There are birds twittering, barnyard noises, the sound of the wind (tornado) and many other sound effects. But the only noise which phases us is the sound of the knocking on Tinman’s chest – to see if he has a heart. Both of us run to the front door and bark furiously. I’m glad I don’t live next door to Lindy. Most people play music. Just WHAT is going on in there?

Keep watching as we update with the latest happenings.

Just “Follow the yellow brick road.”

Spirit & Porsche
The Totos.

Update 29 Dec 01:
The demanding schedule has had some effectson the cast. Trent, who played Nikko the head of the flying monkeys hurt his back and has been unable to perform. His place has been taken by Sara . She had a very bad experience with a dog when she was small and is a bit apprehensive about dogs. At first Sara is quietly nervous about handling Toto but Lindy reassures her that Porsche is very friendly and will most likely "lick her to death." All Sara's fears have now been dispelled and she and the Totos are firm friends.

Guess what Nikki got for Christmas ? A real live duckling called "Quacky". Nikki was going to bring "Quacky" in to the theatre to meet the Totos but somehow we do not think this would be a very good idea..

Nikki gave the Totos each a brand new collar which she bought from England. Spirit got a black one and Porsche a red one. The collars are really "snazzy" - they even have gold on them. Porsche wore her new collar when she took her curtain call on Christmas Eve.

The Totos gave Nikki a Wizard of Oz charm bracelet and Lindy a Wizard of Oz necklace. Everyone in Oz had a good Christmas - lots of nice presents and plenty to eat.

The Totos would like to give special thanks to all the fire fighters battling the NSW bush fires - a lot of whom are volunteers . Without their dedication and bravery in trying to control the raging fires a lot more homes would be lost. They are the "unsung heroes" of this terrible tragedy. Thank you all.


 

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