Once a witch, always a witch: Durack and Rix reunite for The Wizard of Oz

Australian musical theatre superstars Lucy Durack and Jemma Rix will join the cast of The Wizard of Oz as Glinda the Good Witch and the infamous (green) Wicked Witch of the West in John Frost and Suzanne Jones’ production this November.

Jemma Rix and Lucy Durack | Photo by Brian Geach

The pair, who have starred as Glinda and Elphaba (the “wicked” witch) in the blockbuster musical Wicked, will tackle these incredibly familiar, albeit slightly different, characters alongside musical theatre royalty Anthony Warlow in a lavish new production.

Developed from the ever-popular MGM screenplay, this London Palladium production of The Wizard of Oz contains the beloved Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg songs from the Oscar-winning movie score, all the favourite characters and iconic moments, plus a few surprises along the way, including new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber for both of the witches – in a very different style to the Wicked musical score.

“Even though technically I played the same character, you actually couldn’t find a more polar opposite if you tried”, said Rix, who performed the leading role misunderstood Elphaba in Wicked across Australia during both Australian tours, as well as in Singapore, Seoul, Auckland and Manila.

Now as she approaches The Wicked Witch of the West, (complete with green hue and a show stopping number at the top of act 2) she is thrilled to bits about working opposite Lucy, Anthony and playing the villain.

“Yes, I have to be green again but oh my gosh, how exciting, she’s absolutely horrible as a character. That’s kind of what got me excited, seeing how evil she was and getting the opportunity to play someone that evil is something I’ve not done before. So I think it will be a really great process for me to go through in rehearsals and really sink my teeth into someone like that. She’s truly, truly wicked”.

Lucy Durack is one of Australia’s most exciting leading ladies of stage and screen with a list of major roles to her credit. On the musical stage, she played Glinda in the original Australian cast of Wicked and Elle Woods in Legally Blonde The Musical for which she won both Sydney Theatre and Helpmann Awards as Best Actress in a Musical. Lucy’s numerous TV credits include Doctor Doctor, Upper Middle Bogan, The Letdown, Here Come The Habibs and The Moodys.

“This is a very lush, beautifully designed production. I love The Wizard of Oz, I always have and always will, so this is a real thrill”, said Durack, who is believes that playing Glinda in Wicked will help inform her choices as Glinda The Good Witch.

“With Wicked and The Wizard of Oz you just shift the camera to one side and look down a different lens. We are just moving the lens back again. I don’t think I can wipe the slate clean, but I do want to give Glinda a little more maturity. Glinda exists for the purpose of Dorothy and what Dorothy needs in The Wizard of Oz, so with that in mind she needs to give Dorothy support and it’s in a way that I think Glinda in Wicked would be able to achieve by the end of her journey. I always thought, when I was playing Glinda in Wicked, that she became that person who would look after the citizens in Oz and she took that very seriously.”

The new production of The Wizard of Oz had its world premiere at The London Palladium Theatre in March 2011. After a successful West End run, the production had its North American premiere in Toronto in December 2012, and then embarked on a US tour from September 2013. The Australian production will open at QPAC from 4 November and transfer to Sydney’s Capitol Theatre from 30 December.

Tickets will be on sale from Friday 26 May in Sydney and Friday 2 June in Brisbane.

Waitlist now to be the first in line to purchase tickets at wizardofozthemusical.com

Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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