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Pam Wheaton
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U.S. actress plays Dorothy in Corner Brook production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’

American born actress Rachael Joffred will be playing Dorothy in the Off-Broadway Players’ production of  “The Wizard of Oz” in Corner Brook this weekend. — Photo by Geradine Brophy/ The Western Star

Corner Brook is a long way from home for Rachael Joffred, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“My mother moved to Corner Brook two years ago for work and I visited a few times and absolutely fell in love,” said Joffred.

The West Lawn, Pa. native adores the breathtaking coastlines, Gros Morne National Park, the ability to touch an iceberg and, of course, the summer theatre and music festivals taking place in the region.

“I knew I couldn’t bear to go back,” she said.

However, Joffred’s interest in the theatre didn’t just happen while on Newfoundland soil.

The 26-year-old graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theatre — acting and directing —from DeSales University in Pennsylvania and spent the past few years working as a performing artist in Philadelphia and New York City.

So it was only natural for Joffred to have a piqued interest in the Off-Broadway Players’ production of “The Wizard of Oz” when auditions were announced.

“I happened to set up my student email account at Grenfell (where she is taking general studies courses) just in time to find out about the auditions,” she said.

Even if she did get lost a few times and arrive late, Joffred fit the part to play Dorothy, and she’s thrilled about telling the classic story of “The Wizard of Oz.”

That story, written by L. Frank Baum, involves young Dorothy living on a small farm in Kansas with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry.

When a tornado hits the farm, Dorothy, in her red shoes, and her dog Toto get carried away to a strange place where little people called Munchkins and a good witch greet them.

It’s discovered that Dorothy’s house has landed on, and killed, the Wicked Witch of the East, so Dorothy takes the witch’s charmed silver shoes and after a protective kiss from the good witch, sets out to visit the great Oz.

It’s there that Dorothy hopes Oz will be able to send her back home.

Joffred said it’s been an amazing experience travelling down the yellow brick road with the cast and crew.

“It felt and still feels wonderful,” she said. “I am meeting really fantastic, talented and fun people and I’m so grateful for the experience.”

Joffred said playing Dorothy in a play is about the “most fun anyone could have.”

“I’m extremely proud to be a part of this show,” she said.

Although a large number of the population knows the story about “The Wizard of Oz,” Joffred said seeing it performed on stage is a entirely different experience.

“It’s magical to see it unfold in front of you,” she said. “There are no throw-away parts in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Every part of the story is important and full of fun and excitement. I encourage everyone to take the time and come to a show.”

“The Wizard of Oz”‚ is directed by Jim Parsons, with musical direction by Gary Graham and choreography by Candice Pike.

On top of rehearsing and performing, Joffred is also writing about her experiences as Dorothy at the blog, Cornerbrooker.com.

Show times for “The Wizard of Oz” are Oct. 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. as well as a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.  

All shows take place at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre.

“We are encouraging people, especially children, to come to the shows and dress up in costumes,” she said.


The Western Star

Organizations: DeSales University

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Pennsylvania, U.S. West Lawn Gros Morne National Park Newfoundland Philadelphia New York City Broadway Kansas Western Star

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