The Wizard of Oz musical hits Adelaide’s Festival Theatre during April. It travelled all the way from London. In the lead-up to opening night, we caught up with Samantha Dodemaide (aka Dorothy) for a natter during her (limited) downtime.
The role of Dorothy… is a dream come true. It’s a dream come true anytime I’m offered a job to work in musical theatre, and to add Dorothy on top of that is just icing on the cake. It’s absolutely thrilling. It still feels very surreal and I don’t think I’ll believe it until the curtain closes on opening night.
The most exciting thing about playing Dorothy is… capturing her inner strength. The role of Dorothy was written far beyond her years, especially considering the film was released in 1939. While she has a strong element, she is also very caring and passionate. I see so much of myself reflected in the character. She is very ambitious, positive, and wants to do what’s right and make the most of her life. She’s such a multi-dimensional character and even though she’s 16, she’s very wise for her age. At the same time, she’s also very naive and has a lot to learn. I love that.
Growing up… I always knew I wanted to perform. I remember I used to run around my grandparents’ lounge room giving them performances. They’re still forced to sit down and watch me now at 28! I grew up watching the MGM musicals, watching Doris Day, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe and Fred Astaire, who absolutely inspired me. They are what made me fall in love with theatre, and in particular musical theatre.
My approach to learning my lines is… many hours sitting in a room by myself. With practice it does get easier, but if you’ve been in a show for a year, you’re not really getting to practice those skills on learning lines and thinking about text quickly, so it does get rusty. It could become quite stressful leading up to an audition.
I’m currently living… in Sydney with my partner. I’m originally from Melbourne but we moved to Sydney [four years ago] because he went to the National Institute of Dramatic Arts.
I feel most at home… when I’m with my partner. I would also say Melbourne, but Sydney has become home and I think with enough time you can make anywhere your home. I love going back to Melbourne, because a lot of my friends and family are there.
When I go to Adelaide… I visit the beaches, they’re really very beautiful. You also have some gorgeous wineries. The last time I was there was for Singin’ in the Rain, which I was the understudy for Kathy Selden. Before that I was in A Chorus Line, which was six or seven years ago, where is actually where I met my partner.
The most challenging part about the arts… There are a lot of ups and downs in being a performer. The more success you have, the rejection doesn’t get easier because you put your heart and soul into everything that you perform or audition for. You have to let them go, and that is challenging. The long distance when you’re in a relationship is hard, and being away from your family and friends. Performing in eight or nine shows a week is also a vigorous task and it does demand a lot of you. Every audience member there is paying their money and probably seeing the show for the first time. You have to really deliver 110 per cent every single performance. But as soon as you step out on stage you forget about all those things, and there isn’t a single show that goes by that I don’t feel grateful about doing.
I’m at my happiest when… I’m in the spotlight. It’s where I feel the most at home and the most at joy.
I advocate for… animal rights, I’ve always felt strongly about that.
My partner is jealous of… the new leading man in my life, Toto. I have said I’m more than happy to share a dressing room with him. The first time we met we had an instant bond.
If in 10 years… I could say that I’m a professional actor, I’d be pretty happy. I get asked about dream roles and shows a lot, but I honestly believe the roles find you. I would like to perform in shows that I am passionate about, that have a great meaning or have a great story behind them, and especially where I can connect as a person.
In my down time… my partner and I go to the theatre or see a film once a week. I love bikram yoga, which people are often a bit shocked at, but I really love doing it. I’m hugely into outdoor lifestyle – I love exercising. And I’m a big reader. I don’t get enough time to read but that’s the first thing I’ll do when I get to go on holidays or have a weekend. I love picking up a good crime novel or true story.
The Wizard of Oz hits Adelaide’s Festival Theatre on 3 April and runs for four weeks. Tickets start at $59.90.