We’re off to see the wizard at the Grand Opera House

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The Grand Opera House is a whirlwind of activity at the minute, as the young cast of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ begin rehearsals for their upcoming show.

Hundreds of budding young performers from all over Northern Ireland will be coming together for this year’s summer project to follow Dorothy and her friends on their musical journey to meet the great and powerful Wizard of Oz.

Peter Gildernew, a seventeen-year old performing arts student from just outside Dungannon, is no stranger to the show and is delighted to be bringing the lovable, if slightly daft, character of Scarecrow to life. “My first ever musical was The Wizard of Oz when I was in primary school,” he told us. “I played the scarecrow then as well so it is crazy to now be playing the scarecrow in the Grand Opera House, When I was in secondary school I used to dream about being on the stage of the Grand Opera House. It is incredible that I am doing this. I have performed at the Mac before and for two years at the Market Place Theatre in Armagh but this will be the first time in the Opera House. This is the big one.”

The cast have a very tight rehearsal schedule for the show, which opens on Thursday July 26 and runs until Sunday 29. However, Peter admits that he loves the thrill of rehearsals and he is already looking forward to the curtain going up on opening night. “It is only two weeks of rehearsals but I really love it,” Peter continued. “It is my favourite part of the whole thing. I get nervous on the first night but after that it is just an adrenaline rush.”

Peter will be joined on stage by two girls who are sharing the role of Dorothy - Holly, from Newtownabbey and Caroline from Jordanstown.

This is the first time that Holly, a student at Belfast High School, will take on a lead role, although she has been involved with the summer project in previous years. Admitting to having a few nerves about opening night, Holly is delighted to be playing the role of Dorothy. “This is the first time I have got a principal role and it is always something I wanted,” she said. “There is a lot of talent on stage and so much competition so I wasn’t really expecting it, and when I found out I was so excited to tell everyone and see their reaction.

“Dorothy is a strong character but feminine too.

“It is quite difficult to get across her layers and the different personalties within her so I am working on the characterisation at the minute.”

Tickets for The Wizard of Oz are on sale now from the Grand Opera House Box Office and online at www.goh.co.uk.