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Wicked encounter . The Cowardly Lion (Gordon Ronson), Scarecrow (Brandon Ronson), Dorothy (Sheridan Ioane) and Tinman (Ashton Buckingham) meet the Wicked Witch of the West (Sian Wilkinson). PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Waimate audiences are following the yellow brick road this month.

The Waimate Theatre Company is presenting its first production in five years at the Waimate Regent Theatre. Five performances of the classic musical The Wizard of Oz will be staged, from May 19 to 27.

“The popularity of this show was reflected in the strong audition numbers, and the production team are excited by the talented and enthusiastic cast of adults and children,” publicity officer Karen Beker said.

“The theatre company is proud to have the experienced Alice Sollis as director, Vanessa Morgan as musical director, Paula choreographer and Marion Kortright as production manager.

“This production team is supported by a talented musical crew led by rehearsal and show pianist Claire Luckman.”

Rehearsals have been under way for weeks, the cast putting in long hours. The show includes 27 children, some of whom made guest appearances at the recent school holiday programme at the Waimate Library. They entertained with stories about Dorothy’s adventures in Oz, and posed for photos with the public.

Children at the library were encouraged to don fancy dress and create colourful rocks with a Wizard of Oz theme. A rock hunt rounded off the session.

Another dress-up occasion is scheduled for the musical’s opening night. Patrons are invited to wear either formal black-tie attire or character costumes. A gala will begin in the theatre at 6.45pm, ahead of the curtain rising at 7.30pm.

Further performances are at 7.30pm on May 20, 26 and 27, and a Sunday matinee is at 2pm on May 21.

Tickets, available at Parkers in Queen St, are $30 for an adult, $20 for a senior citizen, $15 for a student, and $75 for a family of two adults and two children.