Lancing College student Polly revelling in Oz on Chichester stage

Lancing College student Polly Maltby (17) will be diving down the Yellow Brick Road this Christmas as she takes to the stage in Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz.

Monday, 16th December 2019, 9:55 am
Updated Monday, 16th December 2019, 6:06 pm
Polly Maltby (Dorothy) in rehearsal for CFYT's The Wizard of Oz_Photo by Helen Murray

Polly, who will be alternating in the role with Ella O’Keeffe (16), is relishing the challenge.

Currently studying for A levels in music, drama and French, she is already starting to put in applications for drama school, knowing her Oz experiences this Christmas are sure to be a great boost to her confident.

“I joined the youth theatre in year six through to year eight. I did acting sessions, but then I left for a couple of years when I went to Lancing because I was boarding there. But then I joined back because I was in the sixth form.

“I did the show last year, Sleeping Beauty. I was a forest creature, and it was just so much fun. I feel like I have spent the whole of this year just waiting for this to happen.”

She doesn’t necessarily see the role of Dorothy as stepping up: “I think people just grow. It is hard to see it as like a promotion. Different people suit different parts, and I hope this year I am suited to this part.

“But it is definitely one of my dream roles. As soon as I heard they were doing The Wizard of Oz, I just thought I would love to play the part of Dorothy. But I am always very doubtful about myself. I just thought that everyone would be wanting to play the part of Dorothy, and I had so much fun last year that it just didn’t matter what I was doing as long as I was doing something.”

It’s a big challenge ahead: “It is such a tricky show in terms of the depth of it, but I definitely feel that the audience are part of it. The audience is Dorothy in some ways. She is learning from all the characters as she goes on this journey. She is listening to the tinman and she is listening to the lion and she is listening to the scarecrow, just like the audience is listening to their stories.

“And the great thing is that these stories will resonate with different people in different ways. People will relate to what the tinman and the lion and the scarecrow are saying and what they are looking for. And maybe even with the witch, that ‘Why I am so miserable?’ type thing. ‘Why am I so unhappy?’”

L Frank Baum’s classic will be on Chichester’s main-house stage, running from December 14-29, with a recommended age of seven. It will be directed by Lucy Betts in the year which sees the 80th anniversary of the release of the landmark Judy Garland film. The CFT are promising a faithful adaptation of Baum’s classic novel in a version which was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and features all the songs from the 1939 movie, including Over the Rainbow, If I Only Had a Brain and We’re Off To See The Wizard.

The Judy Garland film is unavoidable in many ways: “I watched the film once I had found out that I had got the part. I really wanted to remind myself of the story. I loved the film as a child. I remember watching it and falling in love with the music.

“And I also saw the movie Judy (about Judy Garland in later life). It was just so sad. It makes me realise just how kind everyone is around me when you see how Judy Garland was treated during the making of the film. (Director) Lucy makes the rehearsals so much fun and so comfortable for all of us.”