Work is underway for Shuswap Theatre’s upcoming production of The Wizard of Oz, and musical consultant Jim Johnston and assistant director Astrid Varnes are seeking musicians to provide musical accompaniment to the play.

Musicians wanted to play adventurous travellers along yellow brick road

Shuswap Theatre looking for artists to provide musical accompaniment for The Wizard of Oz

Barb Brouwer


Shuswap Theatre is looking for artists who would like to provide musical accompaniment to Dorothy as she and her friends travel the Yellow Brick Road.

Excitement is growing as preparations are underway for The Wizard of Oz, which will run weekends from Nov. 22 to Dec. 8

Design meetings are underway, well-known director James Fagan Tait is designing the set and has begun working with a lighting designer, technical producer and costume designers.

A musical team has been assembled and includes vocal coach Jennifer Parker, musical consultant Jim Johnston and arranger Craig Newnes.

The team is looking for both rehearsal pianists and musicians to be onstage for the duration of the show to accompany actors as they sing, and provide scoring.

Assistant director Astrid Varnes says a couple more rehearsal pianists are required to work with Parker as she teaches the actors production numbers.

These pianists will be required to commit to two rehearsals per week from the last week of September through to November. Rehearsals will take place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.Tuesday through Friday and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

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“We can be flexible around people’s schedules,” says Varnes.

On-stage, Tait and Varnes are thinking along the lines of a quartet composed of bass, guitar, strings and keyboard.

“We are also considering accordion, flute, and clarinet, among others,” she says. “Multi-instrumentalists are especially invited to express their interest.”

Varnes assures the music will be simple and pared-down, with all the recognizable melodies intact.

“We want to feature the heart of the story, so the songs are not big Broadway showstoppers, but rather sincere thoughts for the characters.”

The production also requires a band leader to co-ordinate with Parker and Tait. Johnston has agreed to provide support to the band leader if needed.

The on-stage band will likely meet on their own two or three times in October to familiarize themselves with the music and will integrate into rehearsals in early November.

“Auditions were great; we had more than 50 people show up, many of them new folks who have never been with Shuswap Theatre before,” says Varnes, noting she would like to have the same thing happen with area musicians. “We want to make sure we’re attracting new people. That makes us stay relevant and represent the community.”

Deadline to express interest is Sept 12, with musician auditions taking place immediately thereafter. Questions or expressions of interest can be directed to assistant director Astrid Varnes at


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