Belfast Telegraph

Hunt on for top dog to play lead role in Wizard Of Oz

By Stephanie Bell

Could your prized pooch be the next big star of the stage? The search is on to find the local dog with the talent to play the role of Toto in a production of The Wizard Of Oz.

Fortwilliam Musical Society has launched the search for its newest cast member, with live auditions being held in the new year.

The company is calling for "dogs with the X Factor" to take part in its production to be staged at Theatre At The Mill in Newtownabbey next March.

Toto is the companion of lead character Dorothy Galeas they are transported to the magical land of Oz from their farm in Kansas.

While the character of Toto is present throughout the production, the actual performance time required for the lucky dog who lands the part will be just five minutes.

And while your cherished canine might be as cute as the original in the classic Judy Garland movie, not just any dog will do for the local production as the society has laid down very strict criteria for those auditioning for the role.

Siobhan Farrell, vice-chairperson of the society, said: "In my nine years with the company we have never auditioned for a dog before.

"It will be a big challenge for us and we want to get it right.

"We have a very good cast and now we want to get a good Toto.

"We are looking for a dog that is small, dark brown or black, who can answer to the name Toto when beckoned by the actor playing Dorothy.

"We launched our search through Twitter and Facebook and are inviting people to upload a 30-second audition video of their dog being called across the room to the name of Toto.

"We've had lots of people send in photos of their dogs but we need videos, and full details of how to upload them are available on our website."

The criteria also states that the dog and its owner must be available to attend rehearsals and performances from March 15-19. Pooches must be toilet trained, have a good nature, be confident and not scare or bark easily.

There will be no fee for the role. A shortlist of five dogs who the theatre company believes could make the cut will be required to attend a live audition on January 9. Each dog will audition for three members of the society, when they will be required to interact with the actors Maria Sweeney (Dorothy) and Jen Fahy (the witch).

Three potential Totos will be picked from the live auditions when it will be up to the public to decide in an online vote which one should tread the boards next March. Entries close on January 2.

For details on how to enter your pet, go to You can upload your video on the Fortwilliam Musical Society Twitter or facebook page with #searchfortoto

Belfast Telegraph


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