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Jackson the rescue dog has starring role in panto

Posted on 20/11/2017 by Helga Pearson in The Georgian Theatre Royal The Wizard of Oz
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Rehearsals are now well underway for 'The Wizard of Oz' and joining the cast of this year's panto is a four-legged star who has his own magical story.

Jackson, a three-year-old cockapoo from Leeds, is taking the role of Toto and audiences will find it hard to believe that this happy and confident little performer is actually a rescue dog that just a couple of years ago was really down on his luck. After being airlifted out of a very unsuitable home, he found a new owner in actress Sarah Kearsley who also happens to be a professional dog trainer.

So, when Sarah was cast in The Wizard of Oz as Alfalfa, the Wicked Witch of the West, Jackson found that he also had a leading role to play.

Clare Allen, writer and director of this year’s pantomime, explains: “We were intending to hold separate auditions for Toto but when we got talking to Sarah we realised that the show’s canine star was actually sitting right under our noses! Not only is Jackson incredibly cute but he is also highly talented and can perform a wide range of clever tricks. He is also very friendly and has already become a firm favourite with the cast and crew. We are sure that our audiences will love him!”

The rest of the cast includes several well-known faces from previous productions at The Georgian Theatre Royal, including Gary ‘Gacko’ Bridgens as Glinda who is starring in his eighth Richmond pantomime and his fourth outing as Dame.

He is joined by Freya Mawhinney who is taking time out of her final year of actor training at the School of Arts, University of Northampton to play Dorothy. This is Freya’s first professional role at The Georgian Theatre Royal but she has spent much of her younger years performing at the Theatre with local societies and The Georgian’s esteemed Youth Theatre. 

Nick O’Connor as the Lion is back on the Richmond stage for the second time having performed earlier this year in his one man show Being Brel – a theatre piece detailing the life of the legendary troubadour Jacques Brel. He is joined by Ross Dean as the Tin Man and Edward Cole as the Scarecrow, who both have plenty of pantomime experience under their belts in theatres across the country.

Daniel Bowater is returning as Musical Director for his eighth pantomime at The Georgian and is joined by musician Kerrin Tatman. The chorus is made up of three groups of talented young performers that have become a mainstay of this popular family-style of pantomime.

The Wizard of Oz runs from Thursday 7 December 2017 until Sunday 7th January 2018. Tickets are priced from £8 and are available from the Box Office on 01748 825252 or via the online booking service on this website.

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