Wizard of Oz to be relocated to Paisley for spectacular new National Theatre of Scotland show

It is the classic children’s fantasy adventure that inspired one of the greatest Hollywood musicals of all time.

Now the streets and landmarks of Paisley are set to be transformed by a spectacular new version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The Renfrewshire town will be transformed into a “living stage set” by the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) for one of its biggest shows next year.

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The National Theatre of Scotland is creating it own version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for Paisley over the next year. Picture: Robert Perry
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It is planning to adapt L. Frank Baum's beloved 1900 novel into a “a high octane, visually arresting carnivalesque performance” that will make its way through Paisley next June.

The promenade production – OZ! - A Yellow Brick Road Adventure in Paisley – will involve more than 200 local participants, as well as a cast of professional actors and musicians.

The show will embrace dance, theatre, music, puppetry and circus as it weaves its way around Paisley’s streets, shopping centres, landmarks and buildings.

The performances, which are being developed by theatre-makers Cora Bissett and Bex Anson, will be the culmination of a year-long project the pair will be leading in Paisley, involving community groups, social events and workshops on the reimagining of the adventure in Oz for a modern-day Scottish audience.

Cora Bissett is working with fellow theatrmaker Bex Anson on the National Theatre of Scotland's adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Picture: John Devlin

Among those leading workshops will be songwriters Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly, who recently worked with Bissett on the NTS stage musical Orphans, which was adapted from Peter Mullan’s classic 1990s Glasgow-set feature film.

NTS, which is working on the project with local organisations OneRen and Future Paisley, will be in residence at The Art Department, a pop-up art space that has been created in the former Alders department store in the Paisley Centre.

The theatre company’s new version of the classic American story will see Kansas schoolgirl Dorothy, the central character from the book and film, who was played by Judy Garland on screen, instead focus on Dorothy, a “streetwise lassie” from a “parallel Paisley, sometime in the near future”. Key chapters from the Baum’s novel are expected to inspire scenes around the town.

Jackie Wylie, artistic director of NTS, said: “The National Theatre of Scotland is at its best when working alongside a like-minded partner on a project that celebrates and casts a spotlight on the brilliance of a particular place and its people.

Theatremakers Cora Bissett and Bex Anson step onto the yellow brick road to launch Oz! A Yellow Brick Road Adventure in Paisley. Picture: James Chapelard
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“As we embark on this wonderful adventure down the yellow brick road in Paisley, I want to acknowledge the vision of both OneRen and Future Paisley and our lead artists Cora Bissett and Bex Anson.

"We have between us the courage, the heart and the brains to bring together all of Paisley in this ambitious celebration of talent, storytelling and creativity, building up to OZ! – an unmissable, spectacular event across the town in 2023.”

Bissett and Anson said: “We met as working mums madly trying to entertain our young kids in Queen’s Park in Glasgow during lockdown and decided to combine forces to take on this massive and exciting challenge of creating a new large-scale work with the people of Paisley.

"We’re already bowled over by the amount of talent, ingenuity and passion of the people of Paisley and by the town’s rich history and quirky buildings.

Theatremakers Cora Bissett and Bex Anson step onto the yellow brick road to launch Oz! A Yellow Brick Road Adventure in Paisley. Picture: James Chapelard

"We are looking forward to bedding ourselves into Paisley over this next year and dreaming up a contemporary, fantastical reimagining of this timeless classic."



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