Show must go on with role recast

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The old stage adage “break a leg” has been taken quite literally by a leading cast member of the Waimate production of The Wizard of Oz.
Brandon Ronson, who was cast as the show’s Scarecrow, broke his leg playing basketball for the Waimate A team on Wednesday last week.
He had already performed three of the shows, but could not take part in the final two, prompting the orchestra’s drummer, Benaiah Ferguson to move out of the pit and on to the stage. Another musician, Isaac Williams, took over as drummer.
Director Alice Sollis said initially the show’s future was uncertain because “it is difficult to do The Wizard of Oz without the Scarecrow”.
She discussed the options with musical director Vanessa Morgan who had earlier suggested she fill the role.
Mrs Morgan emailed the musicians, alerting them to the planned changes, which prompted Mr Ferguson to suggest he fill the role of the scarecrow instead.
“He messaged us saying he’s an actor-performer, had a pretty good memory and thought he could perform the role,” Mrs Sollis said.
Both Mrs Sollis and Mrs Morgan liked the idea.
“Benaiah has been a real miracle,” Mrs Sollis said.
Mr Ronson, who now has five bolts in his leg, agreed.
“When I heard Benaiah had offered I was pretty happy, because I knew the show would still go on,” he said.
Mr Ronson, whose father Gordon, mother Sharon and sisters Katelyn and Julia were also in the show, took part in the first three performances before injuring himself.
“I really enjoyed playing the role of the scarecrow because he was very funny and I enjoy playing those types of parts,” he said.
“The whole show was a great experience for me and the cast were fun to be with.”
Mr Ferguson, who travelled from Oamaru for the Waimate Theatre Company production, rehearsed for five hours on Thursday before taking the stage on Friday night.
“I’m quite surprised with myself,” he said, after Friday’s performance.
“I don’t think I missed a line, so I think it went pretty good.”
Mrs Sollis was impressed by the show’s entire crew for working with the last-minute changes so Waimate patrons could still travel along the yellow brick road during the final two shows.